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Fans' carts not on course

I've long believed spectators shouldn't be allowed to rent carts at tournaments, and today we found out -- once again -- why at the regional at Cobblestone Golf Course.

According to several coaches and spectators, here's what happened:

A player for DeKalb shot a ball over the green on the 16th hole, and over a cart path. A family member of this player accidentally drove a cart over the ball. Upon realizing this had happened, the family member then gently kicked the ball out of its embedded lie. In doing so, though, the ball wound up closer to the hole.

No one said anything to the players who were in the group, and none of them were aware of the situation.

It wasn't until some spectators told a coach after the hole had been played out that the player may have suffered an infraction for playing the ball that had been moved closer to the hole.

Ultimately, it wasn't an issue. The ruling that was made by pro Jeff Huffman, who sought advice on the matter from ruling bodies not at the course, was that since the players were completely unaware of the ball being moved, they couldn't be held accountable.

But what if that hadn't been the case? What if the DeKalb player were penalized or disqualified for this whole incident? What if it cost someone, or a team, a spot at the state finals?

All this because people in the gallery were driving carts around.

Granted, the person who moved the ball should have made the players aware of what happened, so the fault really lies with him. Had he made the players aware, they could have replaced the ball to its original spot without penalty.

I know of at least one coach who wants this spectator banned from the upcoming state finals.

Credit should go to the DeKalb coach, Rick Roark, for making sure that everyone was aware of what happened so the proper judgment could be made about his own player.

But this is the problem with allowing carts on the course. It's tough for the hosting clubs to make the determination, since they make money off rentals, but the IHSAA could step in and deem carts are only allowed for coaches and media.

At the state finals, that's the way it is, and that's the way it should be.

And if some people have to walk around the course, so be it. Better that than the tournament's outcome being tainted by people without some sense.

High School Sports Editor Greg Jones on prep sports.

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