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Montana lifts golf ban on spectators attending events, but will now charge parents to watch their kids play

September 17, 2018

Earlier this year we relayed the plight of parents and students against a byzantine rule from the Montana High School Association that bans spectators from golf events, except from certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional. The bylaw garnered national attention when Chris Kelly, one of the leaders of the protest, filed a plea on Change.org to have it overturned.

"There's an urgency to get this done before more people get hurt," Kelly told Golf Digest in January. "Hundreds of people have suffered from this. Parents missed out on opportunities to watch their children. Those are memories you don't get back."

It appears Kelly's group has garnered a partial victory, as the MHSA has introduced a rule on a trial basis this fall that will allow non-participants on the course during events. Twelve guideline have been implemented, which state that spectators have to stay 40 yards from golfers and that cell phones must be turned off upon entering the property.

“We will try it at all levels and see how it goes,” Luke Kloker of the MHSA executive board said to Montana's Sidney Herald. “Every other state seems to be able to figure out how to make it work.”

However, this pilot program will come with a price. The MHSA also announced that it will charge $10 for admission to the course for golf events. While it's common for high-school sports like football, basketball, and baseball to charge entrance fees, it's highly unusual for golf.

The trial run will extend to the spring, with the MHSA board deciding after the season if the rule should be accepted on a permanent basis.

Kelly's petition is still active. To make your voice heard, go to Change.org and sign the appeal.