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19th Hole

Parents in Montana can’t watch their children golf, and nobody is happy about it



In Montana, as you may have heard from an irritated friend at some point during the past month, spectators cannot watch high school golf.

Nick Petraccione of KBZK originally did a deep dive into the following passage from the Montana State High School Association Rulebook in November.

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Petraccione found the “designated” areas are generally the first tee box and the 18th green, but at some courses, there are no such area. Needless to say, as the KBZK report has been disseminated through the golf mediasphere over the past month, most are not in favor of the MSHA’s position.

Before drilling down into some of the dissent, it’s worth considering the logic of spectator restrictions. Per Petraccione:

“It comes down to a few factors: mainly that golf courses and tournament managers are involved in opening those spaces, not the MSHA. Other factors include parents being unruly, disrupting play, spectator safety, and illegally coaching players on the course.”

Fair enough. But the other side of the coin, beyond parents merely wanting to watch their kids play, is that the MSHA could be “trampling on civil rights,” per James Greenbaum, an attorney KBZK spoke with.

“The highest court has stated many times that difficulty of enforcement is no excuse for trampling on civil rights. They are discriminating against children and parents in an outrageous manner in violation of the federal and state constitution. That is a fundamental right, for their parent to bond with their child and encourage them in something as innocent as a sporting event. … How could you deny a parent that right?”

The outrage, as mentioned, is abundant. Major-winner Shaun Micheel tweeted his disbelief. Micheel also suggested the policy handicaps potential college recruits.

“Scores are only part of the bigger picture…That being the intangibles like attitude, etiquette and temperament. How does the player handle adversity? All of the extra things that are part of competing. Coaches aren’t able to evaluate those things by looking at just the final score.”

Chris Kelley, a parent of a high school golfer in Montana, created a petition aimed at bringing awareness and ultimately changing the rule. Dylan Dethier at filed a look at some of the petition’s signees, which include Xander Schauffele’s father and a handful of coaches. You can view the petition here.

The MSHA has declined to comment.

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  1. Stephen Finley

    Jan 18, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    If you’ve ever been to a few high-school tournaments, you’ll know why a lot of people think this is a good rule.

    And no, it has not a damn thing to do with “civil rights.”

    And double no, it’s not that “parents in Montana can’t watch their children golf” (we’ll ignore the amateurish use of “golf” as a verb — “did you golf today?”…”yup, I golfed a 74,” etc.), now is it? They can watch their children play on the weekends. On an evening when there’s no tournament. All summer. Any non-school-sponsored events. And so forth. This tabloid-headline thing is just dumb.

  2. David

    Jan 18, 2018 at 6:51 am

    This has nothing to do with civil rights. Not everything you want is a civil right. It’s about prevention of cheating and disruption of play. Some parents are too controlling and want to interfere in whatever their child does. I’m not saying I agree with it, but some adults are too childish to just watch.

  3. Ronald Montesano

    Jan 15, 2018 at 5:27 am

    Amen. As a high school golf coach and teacher, I support this distancing. If parents wish to follow their progeny, their are plenty of junior tour events that accommodate them. Ground the helicopters for a while.

    • Stephen Finley

      Jan 18, 2018 at 8:34 pm

      Just came here to make the same glaringly obvious point.

  4. Lee

    Jan 14, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    I can only imagine every high schooler in Montana wishing they had voting rights to keep the status quo. What high schooler wants their parents following them around?

  5. Howard

    Jan 14, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    We can’t have spectators in San Diego either.

  6. Dad & Mom

    Jan 13, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    I disagree. Just look at what Tiger’s dad did for him. Parents are an integral part of helping their kids on the golf course and perhaps should be allowed to caddie for the kids.
    Good parents make good golfers of their children and that’s undeniable.

  7. Crazy About Golf

    Jan 13, 2018 at 10:43 am

    Kind of a dumb policy. But, geez, let’s not pretend (Mr. Greenbaum) that this is some egregious violation of civil rights.

  8. Bert

    Jan 13, 2018 at 10:31 am

    During a junior tournament last year I watched a young girl continually demeaned by her dad every time she hit an errant shot. It was sad to watch a really good player cry as she completed her round. I believe it should always be a Condition of Competition that interaction between the parent and the player would be grounds for disqualification. But why would you disqualify a player for being continuous ridiculed. Parents should stay far away from the player, keep their expressions under control and never interact with the player.

    Just let them play!

  9. astout59

    Jan 13, 2018 at 10:21 am

    I played 4 years of high school class B golf in Montana and I had no issue with my mom and dad not being able to see me play other than coming up the last hole to the clubhouse or teeing off 1. I didn’t need a cheering section outside of my coaches and teammates and I doubt you’ll find many teenagers that disagree with me.

  10. Doobie

    Jan 13, 2018 at 4:03 am

    Yeah we can’t have outsiders come in and take over things and ruin it for the locals, can we, eh Yanks?

  11. Mat

    Jan 13, 2018 at 2:45 am

    I’m happy for the kids.

  12. Mj

    Jan 12, 2018 at 11:11 pm

    Good ideaThere are manyWell meaning parents out thereWho knows zero about golf. I’m in assistant high school coat and I see it all the time. Are you staying in areas where no doubt the balls going to go. Many high school kids don’t know where the balls going. The parents don’t know the rules either.
    I think it’s a baseball game at one accuse other team of cheating etc. It’s just a major hassle for everyone involved including the kids

  13. Andrew

    Jan 12, 2018 at 11:03 pm

    There is nothing wrong with the existing rule. Unless you live in Montana, mind your own business. What is wrong is the herd of naive drones from California infesting Montana for 20 years and forgetting to leave their ignorant ideologies back in their dying land. These idiots tend to sue in lieu of taking responsibility for their ignorance. Imagine a lawsuit each tourney from some texting/tweeting drone walking wherever they feel like and getting hit by an errant shot.

    • Andrew

      Jan 12, 2018 at 11:18 pm

      PS. I’m sure the mentioned Scribe Greenbaum loves the possibility of suing others!

  14. Hawkeye77

    Jan 12, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    Attorney is wrong, state high school authority can set the rules, just spouting off for media attention.

    It’s their issue, they know the facts and history that led up to the restrictions.

    Silly effort on another site to sign some petition as if “golf” in general should be pressuring a situation for which little real information is out there and is irrational overreaction.

    Social media society we live in and anyone can exploit it,

  15. HeineyLite

    Jan 12, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    Great idea, there are some crazy over board golf parents!!! Me included…

    • 4right

      Jan 12, 2018 at 6:28 pm

      Agreed, I volunteer at junior events and wow, parents should stay away…

      • JR

        Jan 13, 2018 at 4:04 am

        I posted the same thing and my comment was deleted.

  16. Golfer123

    Jan 12, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    A lot of European junior tournaments have a policy where parents and spectators can only watch the golf on like the first tee, 18th green and every other hole which can be viewed from the clubhouse. This rule came about when parents were getting a little too ‘involved’ with their child’s play. I myself think thiat not being allowed on the course as a spectator/ parent is a good thing because it gives the players a chance to be more independent and make choices themselves on the course.

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19th Hole

Is this the worst “my clubs were stolen” story ever?



Tom Owen. Remember the name, because this unfortunate gentleman may have the worst tale of club theft in recent memory.

Now, the experience of having one’s bag pilfered, never to be seen again, is awful. Your clubs are simply gone, and you have no idea who took them and where they went. Tom Owen had the first part of that experience, however, he knows exactly where his clubs are…and he can’t (legally) do anything about it.

Therese Henkin New Zealand’s Howick & Pakuranga Times originally reported the story.

Mr. Owen’s bag, with its thousands of dollars of equipment and his cell phone, was lifted December 15th from Howick Golf Course at Musick Point, New Zealand.

“They took everything, all my clubs, my bag, trundle, golf balls and my mobile phone which was tucked away inside the bag,” he told the paper.

However, as this is the 21st century, Owen was able to track his phone (which was in his golf bag) to a nearby residential address on Pigeon Mountain Road.

Presumably overjoyed, he called the police to report the theft and the location of his stolen property. One can only imagine his despair when he was told the authorities would be unable to lawfully search the premises and thus could not recover his clubs.

After reporting the incident, Owen was surprised to learn that police were not able to search the premises for the goods.

A police spokesperson explained.

“While we understand people may think police can use the tracking system people use on their phones and then send a patrol car to retrieve the property, under the Search and Surveillance Act 2012, police officers do not have the authority to enter a premise based off a locater app on a missing phone. If police resources are available and the technology can pin-point a specific address such as a household, Police are able to knock on the door and make enquiries, but not enter.”

Obviously, Owen isn’t a fan of the law, and he thinks it puts victims in a bad position. He’s right: Knowing the authorities can’t do anything, but knowing where your stolen phone, etc, is, do you risk your life taking the law into your own hands?

“It’s very frustrating to know where your stolen items are and not have anyone do anything about it. If police really can’t act on the information you give them, then something needs to change.”

What do you think, GolfWRX members? Does this make any sense? Do you join Owen in calling for a rewriting of the law?

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19th Hole

Phil Mickelson’s pursuit of average driving, Phil being Phil, and plenty more Mickelsonia from the wires today



Phil Mickelson. We tend to forget the left-hander remains a divisive, swashbuckling figure as he settles into the home stretch of his PGA Tour career. We pretend that his outrageous risk-taking-masquerading-as-cool-calculation approach to the game is somehow something other than an affront to the plodding, conservative way the game was “meant to be played.” Phil Mickelson: Even those who can’t stand him have to be deeply intrigued by Mickelson the Man and Mickelson the Golfer. How can you not be fascinated? How can you not be frustrated?

The 47-year-old begins his season at the CareerBuilder Challenge this week seeking his first victory since the 2013 British Open. Thus, it’s not surprising to see a rash of Mickelson-related pieces populating the golf newswire today.

Here are a few morsels. Per Cameron Morfit of, Mickelson is pursuing “average” driving this year. The left-hander has historically struggled with the big stick and placed outside the top 100 in strokes gained: off-the-tee last season,

Here’s what Mickelson said about his pursuit of mediocrity off the tee.

“What’s funny is when you’re good at something, chipping, putting, wedges, distance control, all that stuff, it’s easy. It takes me a day or two of practice to get back to kind of an elite level. But to become just an average driver when you’re not good at it, it takes a lot of work. And that’s what I’ve been spending the last few years on, really trying to figure it out. Get the swing plane right, get shallower into the ball, get the weighting of the driver right. The whole mental approach to the driver. Just to get everything dialed in just to be average.”

“I just don’t want to give away shots off the tee. I don’t need to gain shots off the tee; I’ll gain them elsewhere. I feel like the short putting has been addressed. I feel like, and believe, that I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough with the driver. And if that happens, I think 2018 could be a remarkable year, a year where I can win multiple times.”

Golfweek’s Brentley Romine has some interesting remarks from Jon Rahm. Rahm, of course, was coached by Phil’s brother Tim at Arizona State–a job Mickelson left to manage Rahm. Tim Mickelson then ditched that gig to loop for his brother after Bones Mackay dropped his bag to pick up a microphone. In other words, Rahm has seen the pair up close plenty of times, and had this to say about the difference between his approach to the game and that of the variable-obsessed Mickelson

“It’s really fun to hear how they (Phil and Tim) talk to each other, because Tim being my coach at ASU, I don’t need much – “Okay, it’s like 120 (yards), this shot, right?’” Rahm said. “And you have Phil, it’s like, ‘Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like 1 mph wind sideways, it’s going to affect it 1 yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They’re thinking (that) and I’m like, ‘I’m lost.

“It’s funny, he gets to the green and then it’s the same thing. He’s very detail-oriented. He gets there and I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s a foot right.’ And he goes, okay, he reads the green, like, ‘Oh, it’s 1.8 degrees of slope here and this and that. And I’m there listening and I’m like, ‘Man, I hope we’re never paired together for anything because I can’t think like this.’ I would not be able to play golf like that. For me to listen to all that is really fun. And then you hear me and Adam talk, ‘180, a little breeze into, okay, hard six.’ … And it’s just opposite extremes completely.”

Different strokes before making strokes.

Then, there is this piece from Shane Ryan exploring the nature of Phil Mickelson, if you will, and suggesting he could impress this year. Of course, this is a wholly inadequate description of a piece for Golfworld you absolutely must read.


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19th Hole

What’s your favorite photo from the history of pro golf?



Golf history, as we know, is rich. Dramatic storylines, pithy anecdotes, iconic equipment, and storybook shots are all woven into the vibrant tapestry of the game at the professional level.

It’s no surprise, then, that from the rough black-and-white of Old Tom Morris, open-stanced, gazing past the camera to his target, to the present DSLR shots, the history of the professional game is peppered with great photographs.

WRX member Christosterone started a thread with the question, “What’s your favorite tour picture and why?”

He offered this shot of “three reverse-c idols and a Texan.”

Of course, it only took one response, for someone to offer up this classic shot of Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan. One assumes that the fact that they didn’t care for one another only enhanced their badass postures.


Also, dicko999 (who better to post the following?), offered a cropped version of the legendary Presidents Cup streaker shot. Beyond the absurdity of the scene, the facial expressions make this shot great.

Just a fantastic thread that you’ll want to check out–and hopefully add a photo of your own to.

Check out the thread.


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19th Hole