Amateur Status FAQ
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Does the exception for hole-in-one prizes apply to all
formats of hole-in-one contests? top
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:
Does the provision for hole-in-one prizes also apply
to closest-to-the-hole prizes as well?
- A contest in which a player is allowed more than one opportunity on a hole to win
- A contest conducted other than at a golf course (e.g., a simulator or driving range);
- A putting contest.
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
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? top
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
How do the Rules of Amateur Status apply for "Skins"
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
Can I coach golf at the high school where I teach and
remain an amateur? top
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? top
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? top
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.