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Junior Golfers and Amateur Status

Meaning of Junior Golfer in the United States and Mexico

In the United States and Mexico, a junior golfer is considered to be an amateur golfer who has not reached their 19th birthday during the calendar year ending December 31 prior to a competition requiring that golfer to be a junior in order to participate.

For example, if a competition is scheduled for January 2-5, 2018, and the player turns 19 on January 1, 2018, he is a junior for that competition and remains a “junior golfer” for the remainder of that year.

Note: This definition is used to determine when to apply Rule 4-2 (Receipt of Competition Expenses by Junior Golfers), and is not the basis for deciding whether an individual is eligible for a competition. Committees that conduct junior competitions may use different age limits for determining who is eligible to participate.

Junior Golfers Receiving Assistance With Expenses

There are many opportunities for young golfers to hone their games by competing against other junior golfers in local, state and national competitions and it can be very expensive to travel to participate in these competitions. Fortunately, the Rules of Amateur Status allow junior golfers to receive help with these costs.

The Rules allow an amateur golfer, including a junior golfer, to receive financial support directly from a family member (e.g., parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle) or legal guardian.

A junior golfer may also receive a reasonable amount of money directly from an outside source, including an individual or business, to assist with paying the expenses incurred to play in a competition limited to junior golfers (e.g., the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship). However, the expenses must not come, directly or indirectly, from a professional agent or any similar source under any circumstances.

If a junior golfer wishes to receive funds to participate in a competition that is not limited to junior golfers (e.g., the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship), he or she may still receive financial support from sources other than family members. However, in that case, the funds must be approved by and paid through the golfer’s state or local golf association if the value of the money received from an outside source exceeds $300 for one competition. Note, this is an exception limited to the United States and in most other countries, all expenses must be approved. Please contact the appropriate governing body for more information.

The forms to be completed by the sponsor and junior golfer when the expenses are to be paid through the state or local golf association can be found here.

The following are common examples of competition expenses:

  • Transportation/Travel
  • Accommodation/Lodging
  • Meals/Refreshments
  • Entry Fee
  • Caddie/Cart Fees
  • Practice Range/Practice Round Fees

Additional Notes

If the junior golfer is considered to have “golf skill or reputation” as defined by the Rules (i.e., he or she competes in national championships or is an elite player), he or she must not promote or advertise the source of the expenses, including but not limited to wearing or carrying anything that has the donor's logo. The expenses must not come from a professional agent or any similar source.

As some parents may wish to accompany their son or daughter traveling to a competition, the Rules allow parents, legal guardians, siblings or other appropriate people to accept reasonable expenses from an outside source to accompany a junior golfer to a golf competition, subject to Rule 4-2. This is permitted for practical reasons, as it allows another person to assist the junior during their travel to and from competition.

While the USGA Rules of Amateur Status allow junior golfers to receive and use funds from sources other than family members as described above, in some cases state high school athletic associations and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) may prohibit or limit the receipt and use of such funds. Therefore, before accepting or using funds from a source other than a family member, the junior golfer should check with his or her high school athletic association and the NCAA to determine if receipt and use of such funds could affect his or her high school or collegiate eligibility.

If you have additional questions, please contact the USGA Amateur Status staff by calling (908) 326-1025 or via e-mail at