Repeal the high school rule that forbids families from watching their kids play golf in MT

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Imagine your kid plays, say, volleyball on her local high school team.  Now imagine she makes it to the championship game and is playing for the state title.  Now imagine you're forbidden to watch.

Welcome to high school golf in Montana.

According to the National Federation of High School Athletic Associations, Montana is the only state in the country that forbids family and friends from watching high school golf matches. (Actually, Montana is one of the only states in the county that imposes this ban.)

The high school coaches in Montana who support this ban say they put it in place to keep unruly parents from interfering with the kids during play.  They say they "don't want to turn the golf course into a little league event."

However, we (the parents) say this is an absurd solution that disenfranchises the overwhelming majority of polite and cooperative people who just want to see their kids play.

It's also discriminatory.  Golf is the only sport affected by the rule.  Imagine if the Montana High School Association (MHSA) tried to stop parents from watching their kids play basketball?!?  There would be riots.

The only reason the MHSA gets away with it on the golf course is because there are not enough golf families in the state to protest effectively.  But minority status does not justify discrimination.

That's why we need your help.  Please sign this petition, even if you don't have a kid who plays golf. 

While banning golf spectators may quiet the course in one way, it actually creates a greater disturbance in the long run. Galleries are a big part of the college and pro experience.  The time to learn how to handle that added pressure is at the high school level.  By forbidding galleries at high school matches, we do a disservice to those kids who aspire to play at higher levels.

BTW, college coaches are also not permitted on the course to scout  the kids.  This seems especially wrong since Montana kids who dream of a golf scholarship are already at a huge disadvantage with the cold weather and short playing season.  We should work to break down the barriers that stand in the way of their success, not make them worse.

It would be easy to create a rule that silences the occasional disruptive parent without banning all spectators.  For instance, hand out etiquette cards that explain expected behavior.  (I'll even create them if necessary).  If a particular parent violates those rules, ask that parent to leave and ban them from future matches.

Every other state allows spectators during school sanctioned golf matches.  Coaches there say that these spectators help, not hurt the experience.  For instance, parents often help the kids find their lost golf balls, which saves them unfair strokes and speeds up play.

As parents, all we want is to be able to watch our kids play.  We want to see them hit that great drive, nail that difficult chip or make that birdie putt. We even want to watch if they accidentally shank one into the lake. It's the same as any parent who wants to watch their kid catch that touchdown pass--or drop it.  Or hit that winning shot at the buzzer, or miss it. 

Please sign.