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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

Exploring Ireland: Where to golf, drink and stay on the Emerald Isle. Pt. 2. Old Tom Morris Links, Donegal

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In these series of articles, I will be taking you around the Emerald Isle providing you with great golf courses to visit in some of the loveliest spots in Ireland. I’ll also be highlighting the best and most authentic Irish bars in these spots, as well as places to stay, eat and how to get there. Whether you’re taking a golfing holiday to Ireland in 2019 or are interested in doing so sometime in the future, I’ll make sure to let you in on the best places to spend your time.

In Part One of our Exploring Ireland series, we focused on County Wicklow and showcased Woodbrook Golf Club. Now it’s time for Part Two, and we’re taking a trip to the far northwest corner of the island, and into County Donegal.

While it may not be the most accessible destination, Donegal is an absolute must for anyone traveling to Ireland. Voted number one on The National Geographic Traveler’s ‘cool list’ for 2017, Donegal is like no place you’ve ever seen. Full of breathtaking beaches, incredible walking trails, cosy pubs and of course, excellent golf courses, you’re guaranteed to have a great time here.

Old Tom Morris Links, Donegal

@Rosapenna1893

My pick for the top golf course to visit in the county is the Old Tom Morris Links, situated within the Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort.

In 1891, while a guest of Lord Leitrim, Old Tom Morris of St. Andrews decided to visit Donegal, and in typical Tom Morris fashion, he believed that it was the ideal location to build a championship course. What Morris created was a course with wide rolling fairways and magnificent greens that have stood the test of time.

@Rosapenna1893

The course was renovated twice before a new Strand Nine opened in 2009 which now plays as the front nine of the Old Tom Morris Links. The addition gives the course a wonderful mix of a traditional and modern links feel.

The challenging course plays over 6,900 yards from the back tees, and only offers up the relief of three par-fives. The challenge can also become even more daunting should the wind blow, and being situated along “The Wild Atlantic Way,” you should expect nothing less.

@EIGTravel

While you will no doubt enjoy the stern test and the natural feel of the golf course, visitors will have even more to look forward to should they take the trip here. The course runs along Tramore beach overlooking Sheephaven Bay and offers up sensational views no matter what hole you are on during your round.

The rates to play 18 holes at the Old Tom Morris Links begin at $40 in winter, and $60 during the summer months.

Food & Drink – The Olde Glen Bar, Carrigart

@oldeglenbar

A 10-minute drive from the course will take you to The Olde Glen Bar a few minutes from Carrigart, which Ulster’s very own Hollywood star and golf fan Jamie Dornan (The Fall, 50 Shades of Grey) called the “best bar in the world.”

The bar first opened in 1768, making it one of the oldest bars in Donegal. The Olde Glen Bar has kept its very traditional feel, and when you get there, you will feel like you’ve been transported back in time. Wooden floors, big open-lit fires, low ceilings and door frames add to the charm of this little bar where there is always something going on.

@oldeglenbar

There is live traditional music playing in the bar every weekend, and along with the music, The Olde Glen Bar boasts an excellent craft beer, whiskey and gin selection. The bar prides itself on its Kinnegar beer, brewed just up the road, and it’s well worth a try if Guinness isn’t your thing.

The bar also features a highly acclaimed restaurant, offering up dishes such as seatrout, venison, supreme of chicken and plenty of other delights.

@oldeglenbar

Where To Stay

The obvious choice is the Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort itself. This luxury establishment will cater to all your needs and is the ideal place to stay when in the area if you have the money to splash out. A classic double room will set you back around $200 a night, or you can go for the stay and play option which provides you with two nights bed, and breakfast along with a round of golf at both the Old Tom Morris and the Sandy Hills Links for around $300 per person.

If you’re looking for somewhere less expensive or more traditional, then there are plenty of cottages in the area that will add even more character to your adventure. Here’s what you can expect should you wish to stay in an Irish cottage in the area, and it will give you a feel for true Irish life out on the Atlantic Ocean.

@ShivonSoap

Donegal has lots to offer should you manage to pull yourself away from the course or the bar. Fishing, walking trails, surfing and scuba diving are all favorite activities to do while visiting Donegal. One must visit, however, is Glenveagh National Park, which is a nature reserve with beautiful scenery of mountains, lakes and woodlands. The highlight of the park though has to be Glenveagh Castle, built in 1870.

How To Get There

The lack of quality public transport in the area makes it a little trickier than other spots to get to, but if you’re driving, then there’s no issue at all. The Old Tom Morris Links is a 3 hrs 30mins drive from Dublin City Centre, 4hrs 10mins from Galway City Centre, and 1hr 15mins from Derry City Centre. If you happen to be flying into Donegal Airport, then it will take you around an hour to get to the area.

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19th Hole

Tweets of the Week: Best golf posts from Twitter over the last week

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Jon Rahm triumphed in the Bahamas, Cameron Smith got the job done down under, and Kurt Kitayama was victorious in Mauritius, but there were plenty more talking points in the golfing world over the past week. Here’s a look at some things you may have missed, and some of the quirkier moments from the world of golf dished out in the Twittersphere.

Rose and Stenson’s Wardrobe Mishap

They proved how well they could perform together when they excelled at Le Golf National in September, but the European pair may have been a little too in sync on the opening day of the Hero World Challenge…

Focus like Chikkarangappa

Chikkarangappa lost his cool on the 16th hole in Mauritius over the weekend, but the Indian showed that it would take more than a ridiculously loud phone going off on his downswing to put him off his stride.

Tiger Fever

It’s reassuring to know that it isn’t just us humans who are obsessed with the 14-time major champ.

Dustin’s Stats

Another decent season for DJ then…

Tommy Fleetwood’s Perfect Solution

Controversy surrounded the result of the mega boxing match between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder over the weekend. The consensus was that Fury had won the fight, but when the contest was declared a draw, golfs very own Tommy Fleetwood came up with the only reasonable solution to decide the winner.

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Patrick Reed hasn’t spoken to Spieth since the Ryder Cup, tells media: “He has my number”

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If you thought that the messy Ryder Cup fallout involving Patrick Reed was a thing of the past, then think again. Ahead of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, Reed revealed that neither he nor Jordan Spieth had reached out to each other since the biennial event to clear the air after their relationship appeared to break down at Le Golf National.

When asked to comment on the matter, Reed put the ball firmly in Spieth’s court, stating: “He has my number,” according to the New York Post’s Mark Cannizzaro.

Reed’s issue with Spieth arose in the aftermath of the 2018 Ryder Cup after reports emerged that Spieth no longer wanted to partner Reed in the four-ball or foursomes format. Reed, as well as his wife and mother in law, criticized Spieth following the U.S. teams defeat in Paris, and now Reed has stated how changes to the usual pairings to appease one or two individuals on the side was detrimental to the U.S. team.

“You had to look at the breakdown of all the guys on the team and what was best for the entire team, not just one or two individuals. So you split up Jordan and I, right? Then you split up Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler, who have played great golf together … groupings that had been proven successful in that format. So it was about the team, not one or two individuals.’’

The 28-year-old was criticized heavily for his comments after the event in Paris, where he took shots at both Spieth and captain Jim Furyk. However, Reed believes that the condemnation he received was un-justified, claiming that when Phil Mickelson did similar back in 2014, he received plaudits, before Reed suggested that he is not given a fair shake from the media.

“He did it and got praised. I did it and got destroyed. It all depends on who the person is, obviously.’’

Reed wasn’t done taking a swipe at the media either and claimed that his relationship with Spieth is absolutely fine and that it is the press that has created the perceived friction between the two men, saying: “I have nothing against Jordan, nothing against him at all. That is done by the media, that’s not done by how he or I feel.’’

I think it’s fair to say that we’d all like to hear from Spieth on that one.

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