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Hawley boys golf coach Tim Pederson watches as ninth-grader Josh Johnson lines up a putt during practice in Hawley. A new rule in Minnesota allows coaches to be on the course during meets. Photo by Dave Wallis / The Forum

High school golf: Minnesota rule change allows coaches on links

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Park Rapids Enterprise
High school golf: Minnesota rule change allows coaches on links
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

The Minnesota State High School League has decided to give golf coaches a luxury coaches in other sports have long enjoyed.

They can now talk to their players.


The MSHSL board of directors have passed a rule that allows coaches to provide instruction on the course during matches in tournaments. Until this spring, that was off limits.

"I don't know how much of it we'll do, but I can see it being useful in calming a kid down," Hawley girls golf coach Troy Olson said. "You want them to figure out most of this stuff on their own, but maybe this allows us to give a little more help."

The rule allows coaching on the course, but coaches cannot talk to players on the green or give instructions on hitting out of a hazard. Coaches also cannot use devices that measure distance, act as a golfer's caddie or officially keep score for a player.

So how much is it going to help the average player to have his or her coach available on the course? That's debatable.

"I don't see much benefit from this, for most of the kids," said Breckenridge boys and girls coach Spencer Goldade. "If you have some kids that are scratch golfers, where you could tell them to make some minute changes to their swing, that's different.

"But most of these kids are just trying to get the ball down the fairway. Telling them about little changes will probably get those kids rattled."

Olson said that the situation depends on the kid. Some golfers don't want to be bothered when they're on the course.

"A lot of kids just want to go out there and golf, and most of the others don't want to hear about making a bunch of changes," Olson said. "They know if they hit a bad shot. I had one kid tell me to say something to her if she hits a good shot, but walk away if she hits a bad shot.

"So it comes around again to boosting confidence."

Goldade said he thought coaches would likely take advantage of it only a few times in a given tournament, but that the instruction needs to be given earlier than the middle of a round.

"You've got to do your coaching on the range before they get to the course," Goldade said. "That's where you get them ready for the tournaments. You shouldn't be getting them ready on the course.

"If anything, I'll probably just do it to settle some nerves."