Montana Rethinks Golf Rules

February 8, 2018

At a recent meeting, the Montana High School Association talked about whether to change its rules regarding spectators at high school golf competitions. According to montanasports.com, current rules allow spectators in only designated areas, while some would like to allow spectators to walk the full course. 

Most athletic directors in Montana favor the current rules, which prohibit fans from leaving designated spectator areas in matches.

“I do have some concerns for spectator safety and player safety. And not only that but interference by spectators for the players as they play,” Pat Lynch, Athletic Director for Manhattan, said.

​Dan Sturdevant, Athletic Director for Jefferson, said that while he was “not in favor of letting spectators walk the course,” he was open to compromise.

“We’re going to try and find more areas where people could go, instead of just staying at the club house,” Sturdevant said.

Leslie Spalding, who coaches women's golf at San Diego State, criticized the existing rule, and said Sturdevant's compromise did not do enough to resolve the issue.

“It shows a close-minded group that doesn’t want to listen to the golf world, that doesn’t know what the golf world really is like outside of the state of Montana and uses safety as a little scapegoat,” Spalding said.

Mark Holiday, a PGA professional golfer, said that pro golfers such as himself feel “disrespected” by the MHSA, which he alleges does not take their opinions seriously. He said that if it were up to him, he would allow spectators on the course.

“This is our livelihood, this is what we do, and we certainly can do it better than the administrators,” Holiday said. “Eventually they will see that once we have spectators on the golf course, it didn’t hurt anybody, it really enhanced the experience for everybody and it’s just the right thing to do.”

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