True story: PGA Tour player Tom Lehman found out that sports memorabilia dealers only traded and sold autographed items by sports stars that were written in blue or black ink.
Aware that those people were only getting autographs obtained at Tour events to flip on e-Bay, Lehman began carrying Sharpies in red, green, orange or purple. When he pulled out one of those colored pens to sign, he knew a fan was a dealer when he would produce a blue or black pen and ask him to use that.
"Sorry," Lehman would say. "Today's a green day."
If the fan didn't protest, Lehman knew it was someone who wanted to keep and treasure the autograph.
Almost all PGA Tour players will sign autographs for fans and are especially considerate to children. In turn, it helps to be polite, say "please" and "thank you" and don't hand a player 10 pin flags at once.
Like the guys who tried to hand Lehman the black pen, they'll have you pegged.
The Players Championship holds its relationship with fans very dear, and that extends to providing opportunities for fans to get autographs. There is a change this season but there's also what they hope will be a trade-off by players that will result in better chances overall for fans to get the signature of their favorites.
For the first time, fans are being asked not to request autographs from players during the practice rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday. It's a time-honored cardinal rule that fans don't request autographs before or during competitive rounds but The Players is extending that to the practice days for a simple reason: with the elite field, a purse that has been beefed up to $10 million and a fat chunk of 600 FedEx Cup points to the winner, practice time is extremely important and players need to concentrate just as much on their preparation as they do when competing.
In exchange, players have been asked to spend more time at the designated autograph areas near the practice areas and near "The Perch," the building between the 18th green and 10th tee that serves as the scoring area for players after their rounds.
Tuesday has been designated as "Pens, Pics and Players Day," a day when fans have their best chance to get autographs and have their photos taken with players at the designated autograph zones.
Fans, especially kids, will have a better chance at getting an autograph from their favorite players, by observing some simple rules.
1. Be polite. Seriously, players notice who's courteous and who's obnoxious.
2. Don't push from behind. It's dangerous.
3. If a player already has his own pen out, don't offer him another.
4. Don't get greedy and try to get a player, especially one of the high-profile ones, to sign more than one item..
5. Want to know the person everyone really dislikes, from the players to other fans? The one who brings bags of stuff to get autographed, then uses kids to go back and forth to the players to get the signatures. Everyone knows you're just there to get stuff to put on e-Bay. Don't be a schmuck.
Next on the tee: Players outside food policy.