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Foreword – To the 2012 Rules of Amateur Status

Foreword to the 2012 Rules of Amateur Status

Amateurism in sport is much less common today than in the past. As the governing authorities for the Rules of the game, the United States Golf Association (“USGA”) and R&A Rules Limited (“The R&A”) have, therefore, conducted a fundamental review of the Rules of Amateur Status (“the Rules”) over the past four years.

The USGA and R&A have concluded that the distinction between amateur and professional golf should be maintained and that the wholesale removal of the limits and restrictions placed on amateur golfers is not in the best interests of the modern game. In particular, it is agreed that because amateur golf is largely self-regulating, both in terms of the playing Rules and handicapping, uncontrolled financial incentive could place too much pressure on these important features and could be detrimental to the integrity of the game.

The fundamental aims of the new Rules are:

• an internationally accepted position that is in the best interests of the game;

• a modern Code that, where appropriate, is faithful to the traditions of the game;

• a Code that has longevity and is enforceable; and

• a Code that works for all aspects of the game (i.e., club golf, elite amateur golf and professional golf (at its various levels)).

Through appropriate limits and restrictions, the Rules are intended to encourage amateur golfers to focus on the game’s challenges and inherent rewards, rather than any financial gain.

The USGA and R&A believe that this new Code strikes the right balance in preserving the traditional character of the amateur game while acknowledging that young, talented golfers may need more support. At the same time, it recognizes that varying social and economic conditions create different challenges for individuals and organizations from country to country and that emerging golfing countries, in particular, may need more liberal and flexible structures to help the game develop. The principal changes are summarized on pages 7 and 8.

It is against that background that the USGA and R&A have formulated these new Rules of Amateur Status.

Christie Austin Clive Edginton
Chairman Chairman
Amateur Status Committee Amateur Status Committee
United States Golf Association R&A Rules Limited

 

Preamble

The USGA reserves the right to change the Rules of Amateur Status and to make and change the interpretations of the Rules of Amateur Status at any time. For up to date information, please contact the USGA or refer to www.USGA.org.

In the Rules of Amateur Status, the gender used in relation to any person is understood to include both genders.

Definitions

The Definitions are listed alphabetically and, in the Rules themselves, defined terms are in italics.

Amateur Golfer

An “amateur golfer,” whether he plays competitively or recreationally, is one who plays golf for the challenge it presents, not as a profession and not for financial gain.

Committee

The “Committee” is the appropriate Committee of the Governing Body.

Golf Skill or Reputation

It is a matter for the Governing Body to decide whether a particular amateur golfer has golf skill or reputation.

Generally, an amateur golfer is only considered to have golf skill if he:

(a) has had competitive success at regional or national level or has been selected to represent his national, regional, state or county golf union or association; or

(b) competes at an elite level.

Golf reputation can only be gained through golf skill and such reputation is deemed to continue for five years after that player’s golf skill has fallen below the standard set by the Governing Body.

Governing Body

The “Governing Body” for the administration of the Rules of Amateur Status in any country is the national golf union or association of that country.

Note: In Great Britain and Ireland, the R&A is the Governing Body.

Instruction

Instruction” covers teaching the physical aspects of playing golf, i.e., the actual mechanics of swinging a golf club and hitting a golf ball.

Note:Instruction does not cover teaching the psychological aspects of the game or the etiquette or Rules of Golf.

Junior Golfer

A “junior golfer” is an amateur golfer who has not reached a specified age as determined by the Governing Body.

Prize Voucher

A “prize voucher” is a voucher, gift certificate, gift card, or the like approved by the Committee in charge of a competition for the purchase of goods or services from a professional’s shop, a golf club or other retail source.

R&A

The “R&A” means R&A Rules Limited.

Retail Value

The “retail value” of a prize is the price at which the prize is generally available from a retail source at the time of the award.

Rule or Rules

The term “Rule” or “Rules” refers to the Rules of Amateur Status and their interpretations as contained in “Decisions on the Rules of Amateur Status.”

Symbolic Prize

A “symbolic prize” is a trophy made of gold, silver, ceramic, glass or the like that is permanently and distinctively engraved.

Testimonial Award

A “testimonial award” is an award for notable performances or contributions to golf as distinguished from competition prizes. A testimonial award may not be a monetary award.

USGA

The “USGA” means the United States Golf Association.

Rule 1

Amateurism

 

1-1. General

An amateur golfer must play the game and conduct himself in accordance with the Rules.

1-2. Amateur Status

Amateur Status is a universal condition of eligibility for playing in golf competitions as an amateur golfer. A person who acts contrary to the Rules may forfeit his amateur status and as a result will be ineligible to play in amateur competitions.

1-3. Purpose of the Rules

The purpose of the Rules is to maintain the distinction between amateur and professional golf and to ensure that amateur golf, which is largely self-regulating with regard to the Rules of Golf and handicapping, is free from the pressures that may follow from uncontrolled sponsorship and financial incentive.

Through appropriate limits and restrictions, the Rules are also intended to encourage amateur golfers to focus on the game’s challenges and inherent rewards, rather than any financial gain.

1-4. Doubt as to Rules

A person who is in doubt as to whether taking a proposed course of action is permitted under the Rules should consult the Governing Body.

An organizer or sponsor of an amateur golf competition or a competition involving amateur golfers who is in doubt as to whether a proposal is in accordance with the Rules should consult the Governing Body.

Rule 2

Professionalism

 

2-1. General

An amateur golfer must not conduct or identify himself as a professional golfer.

For the purpose of applying these Rules, a professional golfer is one who:

• plays the game as his profession; or

• works as a professional golfer; or

• enters a golf competition as a professional; or

• holds or retains membership of any Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA); or

• holds or retains membership of a Professional Tour limited exclusively to professional golfers.

Exception: An amateur golfer may hold or retain a category of PGA membership, provided this category does not confer any playing rights and it is purely for administrative purposes.

Note 1: An amateur golfer may inquire as to his likely prospects as a professional golfer, including applying unsuccessfully for the position of a professional golfer, and he may work in a professional’s shop and receive payment or compensation, provided he does not infringe the Rules in any other way.

Note 2: If an amateur golfer must compete in one or more qualifying competitions in order to be eligible for membership of a Professional Tour, he may enter and play in such qualifying competitions without forfeiting his Amateur Status, provided, in advance of play and in writing, he waives his right to any prize money in the competition.

2-2. Contracts and Agreements

(a) National Golf Unions or Associations

An amateur golfer may enter into a contract and/or an agreement with his national golf union or association, provided that he does not obtain payment, compensation or any financial gain, directly or indirectly, while still an amateur golfer, except as otherwise provided in the Rules.

(b) Professional Agents, Sponsors and Other Third Parties

An amateur golfer may enter into a contract and/or an agreement with a third party (including but not limited to a professional agent or a sponsor), provided:

(i) the golfer is at least 18 years of age,

(ii) the contract or agreement is solely in relation to the golfer’s future as a professional golfer and does not stipulate playing in certain amateur or professional events as an amateur golfer, and

(iii) except as otherwise provided in the Rules, the amateur golfer does not obtain payment, compensation or any financial gain, directly or indirectly, while still an amateur golfer.

Exception: In special individual circumstances, an amateur golfer under the age of 18 may apply to the Governing Body to be allowed to enter into such a contract, provided it is of no more than 12 months duration and it is non-renewable.

Note 1: An amateur golfer is advised to consult the Governing Body prior to signing any such third party contract and/or agreement to ensure that it complies with the Rules.

Note 2: If an amateur golfer is in receipt of an educational golf scholarship (see Rule 6-5), or may apply for such a scholarship in the future, he is advised to contact the national body regulating such scholarships and/or the relevant educational institution to ensure that any third party contracts and/or agreements are allowable under the applicable scholarship regulations.

Rule 3

Prizes

 

3-1. Playing for Prize Money

An amateur golfer must not play golf for prize money or its equivalent in a match, competition or exhibition.

However, an amateur golfer may participate in a golf match, competition or exhibition where prize money or its equivalent is offered, provided that prior to participation he waives his right to accept prize money in that event.

Exception: Where prize money is offered for a hole-in-one made while playing a round of golf, an amateur golfer is not required to waive his right to accept that prize money prior to participation (see Rule 3-2b).

(Conduct contrary to the purpose of the Rules – see Rule 7-2)

(Policy on gambling – see Appendix)

3-2. Prize Limits

a. General

An amateur golfer must not accept a prize (other than a symbolic prize) or prize voucher of retail value in excess of $750 or the equivalent, or such a lesser figure as may be decided by the Governing Body. This limit applies to the total prizes or prize vouchers received by an amateur golfer in any one competition or series of competitions.

Exception: Hole-in-one prizes – see Rule 3-2b.

Note 1: The prize limits apply to any form of golf competition, whether on a golf course, driving range or golf simulator, including nearest the hole and longest drive competitions.

Note 2: The responsibility to prove the retail value of a particular prize rests with the Committee in charge of the competition.

Note 3: It is recommended that the total value of prizes in a gross competition, or each division of a handicap competition, should not exceed twice the prescribed limit in an 18-hole competition, three times in a 36-hole competition, five times in a 54-hole competition and six times in a 72-hole competition.

b. Hole-in-One Prizes

An amateur golfer may accept a prize in excess of the limit in Rule 3-2a, including a cash prize, for a hole-in-one made while playing a round of golf.

Note: The hole-in-one must be made during a round of golf and be incidental to that round. Separate multiple-entry contests, contests conducted other than on a golf course (e.g., on a driving range or golf simulator) and putting contests do not qualify under this provision and are subject to the restrictions and limits in Rules 3-1 and 3-2a.

3-3.Testimonial Awards

a. General

An amateur golfer must not accept a testimonial award of retail value in excess of the limits prescribed in Rule 3-2.

b. Multiple Awards

An amateur golfer may accept more than one testimonial award from different donors, even though their total retail value exceeds the prescribed limit, provided they are not presented so as to evade the limit for a single award.

Rule 4

Expenses

 

4-1. General

Except as provided in the Rules, an amateur golfer must not accept expenses, in money or otherwise, from any source to play in a golf competition or exhibition.

4-2. Receipt of Competition Expenses

An amateur golfer may receive reasonable competition expenses, not exceeding the actual expenses incurred, to play in a golf competition or exhibition as prescribed in clauses a-g of this Rule.

If an amateur golfer is in receipt of an educational golf scholarship (see Rule 6-5), or may apply for such a scholarship in the future, he is advised to contact the national body regulating such scholarships and/or the relevant educational institution to ensure that any competition expenses are allowable under the applicable scholarship regulations.

a. Family Support

An amateur golfer may receive expenses from a member of his family or a legal guardian.

b. Junior Golfers

A junior golfer may receive expenses when competing in a competition limited exclusively to junior golfers.

Note: If a competition is not limited exclusively to junior golfers, a junior golfer may receive expenses when competing in that competition, as prescribed in Rule 4-2c.

c. Individual Events

An amateur golfer may receive expenses when competing in individual events provided he complies with the following provisions:

(i) Where the competition is to take place in the player’s own country the expenses must be approved by and paid through the player’s national, regional, state or county golf union or association, or with the approval of such body, may be paid by the player’s golf club.

(ii) Where the competition is to take place in another country the expenses must be approved by and paid through the player’s national, regional, state or county golf union or association or, subject to the approval of the player’s national union or association, paid by the body controlling golf in the territory in which he is competing.

The Governing Body may limit the receipt of expenses to a specific number of competitive days in any one calendar year and an amateur golfer must not exceed any such limit. In such a case, the expenses are deemed to include reasonable travel time and practice days in connection with the competitive days.

Exception: An amateur golfer must not receive expenses, directly or indirectly, from a professional agent (see Rule 2-2) or any other similar source as may be determined by the Governing Body.

Note: Except as provided in the Rules, an amateur golfer of golf skill or reputation must not promote or advertise the source of any expenses received (see Rule 6-2).

d. Team Events

An amateur golfer, may receive expenses when he is representing:

• his country,

• his regional, state or county golf union or association,

• his golf club,

• his business or industry, or

• a similar body

in a team competition, practice session or training camp.

Note 1: A “similar body” includes a recognized educational institution or military service.

Note 2: Unless otherwise stated, the expenses must be paid by the body that the amateur golfer is representing or the body controlling golf in the country in which he is competing.

e. Invitation Unrelated to Golf Skill

An amateur golfer who is invited for reasons unrelated to golf skill (e.g., a celebrity, a business associate or customer) to take part in a golf event may receive expenses.

f. Exhibitions

An amateur golfer who is participating in an exhibition in aid of a recognized charity may receive expenses, provided that the exhibition is not run in connection with another golfing event in which the player is competing.

g. Sponsored Handicap Competitions

An amateur golfer may receive expenses when competing in a sponsored handicap competition, provided the competition has been approved as follows:

(i) Where the competition is to take place in the player’s own country, the annual approval of the Governing Body must first be obtained in advance by the sponsor; and

(ii) Where the competition is to take place in more than one country or involves golfers from another country, the annual approval of each Governing Body must first be obtained in advance by the sponsor. The application for this approval should be sent to the Governing Body in the country where the competition commences.

4-3. Subsisten 3-1. Playing for Prize Money ce Expenses

An amateur golfer may receive reasonable subsistence expenses, not exceeding actual expenses incurred, to assist with general living costs, provided the expenses are approved by and paid through the player’s national golf union or association.

In determining whether such subsistence expenses are necessary and/or appropriate, the national golf union or association, which has the sole discretion in the approval of such expenses, should consider, among other factors, applicable socio-economic conditions.

Exception: An amateur golfer must not receive subsistence expenses, directly or indirectly, from a professional agent (see Rule 2-2) or any other similar source as may be determined by the Governing Body.

Rule 5

Instruction

 

5-1. General

Except as provided in the Rules, an amateur golfer must not receive payment or compensation, directly or indirectly, for giving golf instruction.

5-2. Where Payment Permitted

a. Schools, Colleges, Camps, etc.

An amateur golfer who is (i) an employee of an educational institution or system or (ii) a counsellor at a camp or other similar organized program, may receive payment or compensation for golf instruction to students in the institution, system or camp, provided that the total time devoted to such instruction comprises less than 50 percent of the time spent in the performance of all duties as such an employee or counsellor.

b. Approved Programs

An amateur golfer may receive expenses, payment or compensation for giving golf instruction as part of a program that has been approved in advance by the Governing Body.

5-3. Instruction in Writing

An amateur golfer may receive payment or compensation for golf instruction in writing, provided his ability or reputation as a golfer was not a major factor in his employment or in the commission or sale of his work.

Rule 6

Use of Golf Skill or Reputation

 

The following regulations under Rule 6 only apply to amateur golfers of golf skill or reputation.

6-1. General

Except as provided in the Rules, an amateur golfer of golf skill or reputation must not use that skill or reputation for any financial gain.

6-2. Promotion, Advertising and Sales

An amateur golfer of golf skill or reputation must not use that skill or reputation to obtain payment, compensation, personal benefit or any financial gain, directly or indirectly, for (i) promoting, advertising or selling anything, or (ii) allowing his name or likeness to be used by a third party for the promotion, advertisement or sale of anything.

Exception: An amateur golfer of golf skill or reputation may allow his name or likeness to be used to promote:

(a) his national, regional, state or county golf union or association; or

(b) a recognized charity (or similar good cause); or

(c) subject to the permission of his national golf union or association, any golf competition or other event that is considered to be in the best interests of, or would contribute to the development of, the game.

The amateur golfer must not obtain any payment, compensation or financial gain, directly or indirectly, for allowing his name or likeness to be used in these ways.

Note 1: An amateur golfer of golf skill or reputation may accept golf equipment from anyone dealing in such equipment provided no advertising is involved.

Note 2: Limited name and logo recognition is allowed on golf equipment and clothing. Further information relating to this Note and its proper interpretation is provided in “Decisions on the Rules of Amateur Status.”

6-3. Personal Appearance

An amateur golfer of golf skill or reputation must not use that skill or reputation to obtain payment, compensation, personal benefit or any financial gain, directly or indirectly, for a personal appearance.

Exception: An amateur golfer of golf skill or reputation may receive actual expenses in connection with a personal appearance provided no golf competition or exhibition is involved.

6-4. Broadcasting and Writing

An amateur golfer of golf skill or reputation may receive payment, compensation, personal benefit or financial gain from broadcasting or writing provided:

(a) the broadcasting or writing is part of his primary occupation or career and golf instruction is not included (Rule 5); or

(b) if the broadcasting or writing is on a part-time basis, the player is actually the author of the commentary, articles or books and golf instruction is not included.

Note: An amateur golfer of golf skill or reputation must not promote or advertise anything within the commentary, article or books (see Rule 6-2).

6-5. Educational Grants, Scholarships and Bursaries

An amateur golfer of golf skill or reputation may accept the benefits of an educational grant, scholarship or bursary, the terms and conditions of which have been approved by the Governing Body.

A Governing Body may pre-approve the terms and conditions of educational grants, scholarships and bursaries, such as those that comply with the regulations of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States of America, or other similar organizations governing athletes at educational institutions.

If an amateur golfer is in receipt of an educational golf scholarship, or may apply for such a scholarship in the future, he is advised to contact the national body regulating such scholarships and/or the relevant educational institution to ensure that any third party contracts and/or agreements (Rule 2-2b) or competition expenses (Rule 4-2) are allowable under the applicable scholarship regulations.

6-6. Membership

An amateur golfer of golf skill or reputation may accept an offer of membership of a Golf Club or privileges at a golf course, without full payment for the class of membership or privilege, unless such an offer is made as an inducement to play for that Club or course.

Rule 7

Other Conduct Incompatible with Amateurism

 

7-1. Conduct Detrimental to Amateurism

An amateur golfer must not act in a manner that is detrimental to the best interests of the amateur game.

7-2. Conduct Contrary to the Purpose of the Rules

An amateur golfer must not take any action, including actions relating to golf gambling, that is contrary to the purpose of the Rules.

(Policy on gambling – see Appendix)

Rule 8

Procedure for Enforcement of the Rules

 

8-1. Decision on a Breach

If a possible breach of the Rules by a person claiming to be an amateur golfer comes to the attention of the Committee, it is a matter for the Committee to decide whether a breach has occurred. Each case will be investigated to the extent deemed appropriate by the Committee and considered on its merits. The decision of the Committee is final, subject to an appeal as provided in these Rules.

8-2. Enforcement

Upon a decision that a person has breached the Rules, the Committee may declare the Amateur Status of the person forfeited or require the person to refrain or desist from specified actions as a condition of retaining his Amateur Status.

The Committee should notify the person and may notify any interested golf union or association of any action taken under Rule 8-2.

8-3. Appeals Procedure

Each Governing Body should establish a process or procedure through which any decision concerning enforcement of these Rules may be appealed by the person affected.

Rule 9

Reinstatement of Amateur Status

 

9-1. General

The Committee has the sole authority to:

• reinstate to Amateur Status a professional golfer and/or other persons who have infringed the Rules,

• prescribe a waiting period necessary for reinstatement, or

• deny reinstatement, subject to an appeal as provided in the Rules.

9-2. Applications for Reinstatement

Each application for reinstatement will be considered on its merits, with consideration normally being given to the following principles:

a. Awaiting Reinstatement

Amateur and professional golf are two distinct forms of the game which provide different opportunities and neither benefits if the process of changing status from professional to amateur is too easy. Furthermore, there needs to be a deterrent against all breaches of the Rules. Therefore, an applicant for reinstatement to Amateur Status must undergo a period awaiting reinstatement as prescribed by the Committee.

The period awaiting reinstatement generally starts from the date of the person’s last breach of the Rules unless the Committee decides that it starts from either (a) the date when the person’s last breach became known to the Committee, or (b) such other date determined by the Committee.

b. Period Awaiting Reinstatement

(i) Professionalism

Generally, the period awaiting reinstatement is related to the period the person was in breach of the Rules. However, no applicant is normally eligible for reinstatement until he has conducted himself in accordance with the Rules for a period of at least one year.

It is recommended that the following guidelines on periods awaiting reinstatement be applied by the Committee:

Period of BreachPeriod Awaiting Reinstatement:
under 5 years1 year
5 years or more2 years

However, the period may be extended if the applicant has played extensively for prize money, regardless of performance. In all cases, the Committee reserves the right to extend or to shorten the period awaiting reinstatement.

(ii) Other Breaches of the Rules

A period awaiting reinstatement of one year will normally be required. However, the period may be extended if the breach is considered serious.

c. Number of Reinstatements

A person is not normally eligible to be reinstated more than twice.

d. Players of National Prominence

A player of national prominence who has been in breach of the Rules for more than five years is not normally eligible for reinstatement.

e. Status While Awaiting Reinstatement

An applicant for reinstatement must comply with these Rules, as they apply to an amateur golfer, during his period awaiting reinstatement.

An applicant for reinstatement is not eligible to enter competitions as an amateur golfer. However, he may enter competitions and win a prize solely among members of a Club where he is a member, subject to the approval of the Club. He must not represent such a Club against other Clubs unless with the approval of the Clubs in the competition and/or the organizing Committee.

An applicant for reinstatement may enter competitions that are not limited to amateur golfers, subject to the conditions of competition, without prejudicing his application, provided he does so as an applicant for reinstatement. He must waive his right to any prize money offered in the competition and must not accept any prize reserved for an amateur golfer (Rule 3-1).

9-3. Procedure for Applications

Each application for reinstatement must be submitted to the Committee, in accordance with such procedures as may be laid down and including such information as the Committee may require.

9-4. Appeals Procedure

Each Governing Body should establish a process or procedure through which any decision concerning reinstatement of Amateur Status may be appealed by the person affected.

Rule 10

Committee Decision

 

10-1. Committee’s Decision

The Committee’s decision is final, subject to an appeal as provided in Rules 8-3 and 9-4.

10-2. Doubt as to Rules

If the Committee of a Governing Body considers the case to be doubtful or not covered by the Rules, it may, prior to making its decision, consult with the Amateur Status Committee of the USGA.

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