The USGA recently revised their rules of amateur status. Starting January 1, 2006, amateur golfers of all ages will be able to accept reimbursement for tournament expenses from sources outside of their family. Tournament expenses include transportation (airfare, rental car, extremely over-priced gasoline), hotel, meals, the entry fee, and caddie fees. This is a major change from the current section of the USGA's Rules of Amateur Status that only allows junior golfers to accept help from outside sources for tournament expenditures.
One main key point in the revision is that all reimbursement must be made through the amateur player's state or regional golf association. This is made in order to ensure that the player is paid for the exact amount spent for the competition and that the new Rule is not abused by giving the player additional money.
Under this provision, juniors will be able to use outside sources to fund any type of competition out of the junior level that they are able to enter. The compensation will be made through the state or regional golf association for non-junior competition but can be paid directly to the player for junior competition expenses. This provision does not apply to amateurs over the age of 18.
Also effective January 1, 2006, amateurs competing in sponsored handicap events may accept expenses to play in its various stages, only if played on a net basis and sponsored by the USGA.
Under certain circumstances, amateurs can also receive compensation for giving instruction. While the circumstances seem to be controlled very strictly, it is possible for amateurs to give instruction where there may not be enough PGA Professionals to help with golf programs. In this case, the USGA and the PGA of America will be in close contact.
Together, The USGA and The R&A, St. Andrews, Scotland, have been working hard revising their respective Rules of Amateur Status for nearly two years. They have correlated more than 20 different codes.
Another key revision being made to the rules regards the value/prize won for a hole-in-one. The prior code limited an amateur to a prize worth no more that $750 for making a hole-in-on. With the new rule, there is no limit to what an amateur can win for a hole-in-one but there is a catch. The hole-in-one must be made "while playing golf," meaning it has to be incidental to a round or a partial round of golf. If an amateur is allowed more than one opportunity on a hole to win a prize, then the $750 prize limit stays in effect. Also if the contest is conducted at a venue other than a golf course (driving range, simulator, your garage, etc.) or the contest is a simple putting contest, then the $750 limit will still stay in effect. Also, this provision does not apply to closest to the pin competitions.
The R&A chose to not match The USGA on the code regarding hole-in-one prizes, still limiting prizes under their control to £500 or about $750.
Finally, the timeframes for golfers hoping to regain their amateur status have been updated. There is a one-year wait for reinstatement if the player has been a profession for less than five years but a two-year wait if the player has been a professional for more than five years.