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

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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 Change.org petition aimed at bringing awareness and ultimately changing the rule. Dylan Dethier at Golf.com 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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24 Comments

24 Comments

  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

Baba Booey for Life! Does this GolfWRX member have a point?

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Oh boy, here’s a heater. On the subject of Baba Booey-ing at golf tournaments, WRX member Stickner started a thread, writing

“For those that think nois.e while a player hits shouldn’t be allowed, you must also believe that fans should NEVER make noise.

“A player with a large gallery jars a 70 footer for eagle to take the lead. The crowd erupts! This should not be allowed.

“Why you ask? There are other golfers well within earshot of the noise. This could disrupt their game. Why does the nearby player you can see deserve the “courtesy of quiet” but the one 400 yards away that you can’t see doesn’t?

“We have all seen players back off because the crowd erupted on another hole. What happens when that eruption happens in the backswing right before the player is about to transition to the downswing? Those boisterous hooligans need to keep their traps shut as this is a gentleman’s game right?

“Being quiet while someone plays golf is silly. My guess is that the elitist snobs that played this game a century ago needed a scapegoat when hitting a bad shot and noise became their scapegoat.”

He wraps his rant in, well, the most appropriate way possible: “BABA BOOEY FOR LIFE B&^%HES!”

Now, this flies in the face of the “isolated noise during the golf swing is extremely distracting” argument that is popularly leveled in defense of silence. But let’s see what GolfWRX members think about Stickner’s comments.

MtlJeff says

“While i am not in favor of intentionally yelling during a swing, your point is an interesting one. I hadn’t really thought of it like that, the loud roars often get overlooked when it comes to the “distracting noise” narrative.”

Eagle1997 says

“Planned vs. Spontaneous. Jabroni Factor only applies to one.”

Blackngold_blood says

“I am fine with cheering for a great shot or groaning for a bad one. My problem with…bababooey and mashed potatoes is the fact that it has nothing to do with GOLF! All the person is doing is screaming “Look at me, I need attention!” Or how about the even less classy “How’s your ankle” that was shouted at Finau after he hit his last approach to 18. I get the point that these are professional athletes and golf is becoming more mainstream but the immature comments need to stop.”

Naptime says

“Background noises and distant noises can be perceived as while noise. If you play next to a highway you adapt and become less aware of it. But if a trucker blasts a horn in your swing it would startle and at least for me would probably result in a hot grounder to third base. Yelling Baba Booey or any other lame comment after a swing doesn’t startle the swinger, just make the shouter sound like a doofus who can’t hold his alcohol.”

What do you think, GolfWRX members? Does Stickner have a point? Should the rules of the wider sports world apply to golf, or does golf fandom require a particular understanding of when to be quiet and when to cheer?

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Both Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth laughed at Phil Mickelson’s 13th hole antics

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The image of 48-year-old Phil Mickelson jogging after his golf ball on the 13th green at Shinnecock, Saturday, was bizarrely comedic. Even if you condemn Mickelson in the strongest of terms, taken on its face, the scene is a silly one.

That said, it’s interesting that two of the biggest names in the game had the same response: laughter.

Speaking before the Travelers Championship, Rory McIlroy said

“I saw what happened…and honestly, I laughed. I felt there was a massive overreaction to it. Knowing Phil, he knew what he was doing, and as a player who has been in that head space before in a tournament, I can see it happening.”

Jordan Spieth voiced similar sentiments earlier in the week

“I laughed, I thought it was really funny…Phil knows the rules…There was a chance it was going to go back behind the bunker and he’s got to chip back, or he was going to play off the green anyways, so he was potentially saving himself a shot. So if that was the intent, then what’s the harm in that? He’s playing the best score he can.”

There are a couple of widely different perspectives (and plenty in-between) here.

One: Thank goodness Spieth and McIlroy aren’t uptight dogmatists when it comes to the rules, and they appreciate the humor in an absurd situation.

Two: Spieth and McIlroy, as significant figures in the game, ought to stand up for the integrity of the rules of golf, condemning Mickelson’s behavior…and perhaps question whether disqualification was in order (as Jason Day and other pros have done).

Which camp you find yourself in likely aligns with how you view the Mickelson incident: A humorous and well-deserved middle finger to the USGA or a reprehensible act for which Mickelson was not sufficiently punished?

Beneath Mickelson’s behavior and the responses of McIlroy and Spieth is the ever-growing rift between the USGA and PGA Tour players–as well as a level of annoyance with/disdain for the organization’s Rules of Golf.

Remembering how Mickelson spearheaded the overhaul of the PGA of America-run U.S. Ryder Cup team and its procedures when he called out captain Tom Watson in 2014, it was the same sort of situation: “Is this calculated, or has he lost his mind?” everyone seemed to be asking.

In the wake of those remarks, players rallied behind the veteran, and he assumed a leadership position in the reform effort. Whether we see something similar with respect to the pros and the USGA/U.S. Open, it certainly looks like the political will for change is there among Tour players, as McIlroy and Spieth’s remarks suggest.

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19th Hole

In other Phil Mickelson news…robot-delivered food

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Not an Onion story; real thing that is actually happening here. Phil Mickelson and his manager/business partner, Steve Loy have signed a deal with Generation NEXT Franchise Brands, Inc. and its flagship subsidiary, Reis & Irvy’s, to open 30 yogurt locations in San Diego.

We’ll just quote directly from the press release, because, who can paraphrase language like this?

“Reis & Irvy’s-branded signature robot characters of the same name can dispense servings of frozen yogurt, ice cream, gelatos and sorbet topped with a selection of six delicious toppings in under 60 seconds. With self-checkout touch screen ordering and payment options, video animation, music and delicious frozen dessert provided exclusively by Dannon, robot vendors meet consumer demand for convenience, entertainment and a superior quality product.”

Mickelson and Loy are reportedly keen to challenge the status quo in food retail.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of such transformative industry change,” says Mickelson. “I’ve pushed boundaries my whole career and that mindset carries over into the business world. The energy and passion from the Generation NEXT team to both deliver a quality product and disrupt food retail is exciting.”

Reis & Irvy’s has awarded $130 million in franchise and licensing contracts since its launch in 2016.

Dress shirts on course. Robo froyo. What will Phil do next, indeed.

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