The Montana High School Association has disqualified the Bigfork High School golfers from the state Class B tournament after ruling a round of golf the team played on the way to the tournament constituted an illegal Sunday practice.
The five-member boys’ team and one girl who qualified for state played a round at the Old Works course near Anaconda on Sunday to break up the 460-mile trip to the Billings area.
One of the parents suggested playing a round at the Jack Nicklaus signature course as a treat, and coach Steve Hullett agreed. The players paid their own greens fees.
It’s not clear how officials at the state tournament found out about the violation, but the MHSA was notified.
MHSA executive director Mark Beckman said the standard penalty for practicing on Sunday is suspension from the next game or match and a reprimand to the school.
Hullett said he was aware of the rule, but didn’t think it applied in this instance.
“They said any gathering of two or more players with a coach on a Sunday, even if it’s just for chalk talk or anything, is considered practice in their eyes,” Hullett said. “There were numerous teams and kids traveling to state on Sunday and you can’t tell me that golf was not talked about at some point in their drive. In my mind, that’s the same thing.”
The team found out about the disqualification after playing the first round on Tuesday.
“If I would have thought there was going to be a problem we wouldn’t have done it,” Hullett said. “The last thing I want to do is jeopardize the kids’ ability to perform.”
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