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Montana High School Association releasing golf spectator pilot program

Posted at 6:06 PM, Sep 12, 2018

BOZEMAN – The Montana High School Association is launching a new pilot program for golf spectators during the 2018-2019 season. The new policy will be instituted for postseason play across all classifications.

According to the MHSA handbook, the current policy states: “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.” The pilot program will allow golf spectators “increased access.”

After each tournament, the club managers/professionals and participating coaches will send feedback of the event to the MHSA’s executive board. The MHSA will then use these evaluations to “determine the scope of the rule for the future after the spring championships are completed,” according to notes from the organization’s September meeting.

The pilot program will be terminated following the completion of the 2018-19 season. The MHSA executive board will review, analyze and determine if the pilot program will continue.

Under the new pilot program, spectators will have to pay a $10 entry fee per day to get into tournaments and will receive a code of conduct booklet and a badge that must be worn at all times.

The MHSA Golf Parent and Spectator Code of Conduct encompasses 12 guidelines, listed below, that all spectators must follow during matches.

1. Spectators attend MHSA events at their own risk.

2. “Advice (Rule 8) is any counsel or suggestion which could influence a player in determining his play, the choice of a club or the method of making a stroke.” In addition, any conversation between a player and spectator may be construed as advice. This includes any signals, gestures or actions made by the spectator. In any of these instances, the penalty for breach of the Advice Rule will be removal of the spectator from the premises.

3. Spectators are not allowed to converse with a player on-course. Words of encouragement are acceptable, as long as advice is not given.

4. Spectators must always stay on cart paths if available. In the absence of cart paths, spectators should walk in the rough. Please stay off fairways, tees and greens. Spectators need to stay at least 40 yards from players at all times and always be aware of the group behind you.

5. Spectators should stay one shot ahead of the group they are following except when the group is teeing off. When teeing off, the spectator should observe from behind the tee box. This allows spectators to follow errant shots and help identify where the ball comes to rest. Spectators are encouraged to help in the search for lost golf balls hit by the participants to assist with the speed of play.

6. Spectators are not allowed to make rulings or present potential rule violations to coaches or rules officials. Only fellow competitors and coaches have this right. Spectators will only be brought into a rules situation if asked by an official.

7. Spectators are not allowed to carry or move a player’s clubs or bag during the stipulated round.

8. Spectators are not allowed to bring chairs onto the course.

9. Spectators must turn off cell phones during all MHSA Golf Events.

10. The MHSA does not allow spectator carts except if the spectator fits under the definition of disabled by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA defines an “individual with a disability” as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Documentation must be presented to the meet manager at each event.

11. The acting rules official(s) is responsible for assessing penalties on spectator violations. If a serious breach has occurred or if a spectator is deemed to be unruly, the spectator will be asked to leave the facility and additional consequences for that spectator may be administered.

12. For your personal safety, spectators are asked to exercise caution at all times. When inclement weather moves into the area, the host course/coach will suspend play. Accordingly, spectators should seek shelter immediately. The schools will evacuate players from the course. Spectators will be required to evacuate as well. Spectators are responsible for their own well-being.

The policy will be finalized at the MHSA’s next meeting in November.