Amateur Status FAQ

Does the exception for hole-in-one prizes apply to all formats of hole-in-one contests?       

No. The Exception applies to a hole-in-one made "while playing golf," a phrase that includes situations where the hole-in-one is incidental to a round of golf (including a partial round). 

For example, a prize won for a hole-in-one must still conform to the prize limit of a retail value of $750 in the following formats:

  • A contest in which a player is allowed more than one opportunity on a hole to win the prize;
  • A contest conducted other than at a golf course (e.g., a simulator or driving range);
  • A putting contest.

Does the provision for hole-in-one prizes also apply to closest-to-the-hole prizes?       

No. It applies only to hole-in-one prizes.

Under what circumstances will amateurs receive compensation for giving instruction in approved programs?       

As the USGA believes that providing instruction for compensation is a key charge of the PGA of America, LPGA and their members, the intention of the Rule is to help support golf in areas where it is difficult to obtain enough PGA/LPGA Professionals to help with golf programs. Only in very rare circumstances where adequate assistance from PGA/LPGA Professionals is not available will the USGA consider, on a case-by-case basis, approving the payment of amateurs to give instruction. Before approving any such program, the USGA will be in close contact with the PGA of America and/or the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Division.

What is the Rule for expenses for sponsored handicap competitions?      

Amateurs competing in sponsored handicap events (e.g., by a company) may accept expenses to play in its various stages, provided the event has been approved by the USGA for US-only events or the USGA and the governing body of any other country involved with the competition. This provision applies only to competitions that are played on a net basis.

May I play in a tour qualifying school as an amateur?     

An amateur may attempt to qualify for a professional tour, provided he first waives his right to any prize money - see Note 2 to Rule 2-1. Please note that this Rule applies only to qualifying schools and does not apply to a qualifier for a particular event (e.g., a player who attempts to qualify as a professional for a specific event would forfeit his amateur status).

What is the difference between playing for Prize Money and Gambling?

The distinction between playing for prize money, which violates the Rules of Amateur Status, and gambling, which does not, is often difficult to determine. In general, amateurs should not play for cash prizes of any amount in large, organized events where playing for the money is not optional, there are no prizes other than cash or the fact that cash prizes will be awarded is advertised. Additionally, there would also be a concern if participation in the event were open to the public. If these characteristics are present, participation in these events will likely result in each player forfeiting his amateur status.

In view of the above, we would urge groups not to award cash prizes. By awarding merchandise or gift certificates redeemable for merchandise instead of cash, the group would ensure that the amateur status of the players is not even brought into question.


How do the Rules of Amateur Status apply for "Skins" Games?    

If participation in the "skins" portion of the competition is not optional (i.e., the players are essentially required to pay an entry fee to be used to award cash prizes in the skins game), the players who play in the competition would likely be considered to be playing for prize money and thus in violation of Rule 3-1 of the Rules of Amateur Status.

If participation in the "skins" portion of the competition is optional (i.e., there is an optional cash side pool in which players could contribute if they wished in order to be eligible for the "skins" prizes), involves a nominal amount of money, and is not advertised, the arrangement would appear to constitute gambling, which is not a violation of the Rules.

May juniors receive expenses?    

A "junior golfer" is an amateur golfer who has not reached his 19th birthday during the calendar year ending December 31st prior to a competition requiring that golfer to be a junior in order to participate. Junior golfers may accept expenses directly from outside help to play in competitions limited to juniors. For other competitions, the expenses must be paid in accordance with Rule 4-2c, and be approved by and paid through the junior's state or regional golf association. Expenses include the player's transportation, lodging, meals, entry fee, and caddie, cart or practice fees. Juniors should also note that the acceptance of expenses may violate the eligibility rules of the local high school athletic association or National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Can I coach golf at the high school where I teach and remain an amateur?      

An amateur who is an employee of an educational institution or camp may be compensated for giving instruction to students provided his total time spent giving instruction is less than 50% of his total time in a year as a school employee.

For example, a high school golf coach is also a history teacher at the school. As a golf coach, he spends time conducting team meetings, transporting students, scheduling matches, etc, and giving instruction to the players. As the time he is actually giving instruction is less than 50% of everything else he does as a school employee, he may be compensated specifically for his coaching duties.


Does professionalism in other sports render a person ineligible for amateur golf?    

Professionalism in a sport other than golf does not of itself render the player ineligible for amateur golf competition.

What is the USGA's position on participation of professionals in club competitions?   

It is up to each club to decide whether professionals may participate in its events.

A non-amateur wins an amateur event - should the title be declared vacant?

It is recommended that, if the winner of an amateur event is subsequently found to have been a non-amateur at the time of the competition, the title be declared vacant for that year.

What is the USGA's policy regarding Member Clubs that host events offering non-conforming prizes or do not uphold the gambling policy?       

If a USGA Member Club hosts an event offering non-conforming prizes or does not uphold the USGA Policy on Gambling, the club will not normally be expelled from membership. However, it will jeopardize its chances of hosting a USGA championship.

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