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USGA/R&A Propose Changes to Rules of Amateur Status


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https://www.usga.org/content/dam/usga/pdf/2021/rules/Proposed Rules of Amateur Status - February 2021.pdf

An article from GolfWeek on this:

gettyimages-975268896.jpg?w=640

What is the distinction between a professional golfer and an amateur one? The U.S. Golf Association would like to simplify the answer to that question. Together with the R&A, the governing body…

Basically, the USGA and R&A are proposing to change the definition of amateur status for golf. If the proposal goes through, you can only lose amateur status in 3 ways:

  1. Receiving a prize in excess of the prize limit ($750),
  2. Payment or compensation for giving instruction, or
  3. Employment as a golf professional or membership of an association of professional golfers.

Without thinking about it too much, this seems to be a good idea to me. Playing amateur golf can be really expensive, and allowing players to get sponsorships has the potential to open doors for people who don't come from privileged backgrounds. I hope that club manufacturers and apparel companies would start look at ways to sponsor minority golfers and golfers for poorer backgrounds. It could be an easy way to get more diversity in golf. 

In that golfweek article, they note that the rise of social media makes it really hard to detect instances of someone getting a sponsorship. The USGA doesn't have the time to scroll through a bunch of instagram posts from amateur golfers to police their current sponsorship rules. Something I hadn't thought of, but it makes total sense to me.

It also appears that it's quicker to get reinstated as an amateur, but I didn't read much about that.

I think the biggest drawback is that money and kids sports don't always mix well. You don't have to look very hard to find examples of that. Hopefully golf will be able to police that better than say, basketball.

Thoughts?

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LIBERTY CORNER, N.J., USA and ST ANDREWS, Scotland (Feb. 22, 2021) – The USGA and The R&A have announced proposals for significant changes to the Rules of Amateur Status that govern the game worldwide.

These proposals result from a modernization initiative that has identified a clear need to bring the Rules up to date to reflect today’s global amateur game and ensure that the Rules are easier to understand and apply.

The proposed Rules, along with explanations to key changes, have been posted on usga.org and randa.org and the organizations are now inviting feedback from golfers and stakeholders. Comments will be accepted through Friday, March 26, with the new Rules scheduled to be adopted on January 1, 2022.

A comprehensive review of the Rules of Amateur Status began in late 2017, focusing on three main goals: to ensure the Rules are in the best interests of the game, reflect the modern game, and are easily understood and applied.

This review reaffirmed amateur golf’s important position in the game and the value in maintaining amateur status Rules to safeguard all the ways golf is played and enjoyed.

The result is a set of Rules that redefine the distinction between amateur and professional golf and provide a condition of eligibility – amateur status – for amateurs who compete in golf competitions.

As part of the modernization effort, it is proposed that the new Rules will identify only three acts that will result in a golfer losing their amateur status:

  • Accepting a prize in excess of the prize limit.
  • Accepting payment for giving instruction.
  • Accepting employment as a golf club professional or membership of an association of professional golfers. 

To achieve this simplified approach, the following key changes are proposed:

  • Eliminating the distinction between cash prizes and other prizes.
  • Using the prize limit as the only way an amateur can lose amateur status through their play (meaning that entering or playing a competition as a professional would not, of itself, result in the loss of amateur status).
  • Removing restrictions from the Rules surrounding competitions such as long-drive events, putting competitions and skills competitions that are not played as part of a tee-to-hole competition; and
  • Eliminating all sponsorship restrictions.

“Golf is unique in its broad appeal to both recreational and competitive golfers,” said Craig Winter, USGA Senior Director, Rules of Golf and Amateur Status. “We understand and value how important amateur status is, not only to those who compete at the highest level of the amateur game, but for the millions of golfers at every age and skill level who enjoy competitive events at their home courses. These updates should help simplify these Rules and ensure the health of the amateur game.”

Grant Moir, Director of Rules at The R&A, said, “The Rules of Amateur Status play an important role in protecting the integrity of our self-regulating sport but the code must continue to evolve. This is particularly so in relation to the modern elite amateur game, where many of the players need financial support to compete and develop to their full potential, and the proposed new Rules will give much greater scope for this.”

The proposed new Rules are accompanied by an overview document and explanations that detail the rationale for why changes are being proposed and, in some instances, why they have stayed the same.

Materials regarding the proposed new Rules, as well as a link to provide feedback can be found at https://usga.org/amateurstatus or https://randa.org.

 

The actual info is here:

https://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/rules-hub/amateur-status/amateur-status-modernization.html

Which really just links you to this PDF:

https://www.usga.org/content/dam/usga/pdf/2021/rules/Proposed Rules of Amateur Status - February 2021.pdf

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  • iacas changed the title to USGA/R&A Propose Changes to Rules of Amateur Status
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I'm seeing elsewhere that the dropping of the stuff about sponsorships may be in advance of a Supreme Court case with the NCAA:

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The Supreme Court has agreed to review in 2021 a court decision removing caps on education-related money some players can receive. The NCAA says it blurs "the line between student-athletes and...

 

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This makes a ton of sense.  To me, at least, sponsorship is very different than winning prize money in golf competitions or being a PGA Pro. 

I was actually surprised that you lose your amateur status for giving lessons...didn't realize that.

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40 minutes ago, Hardspoon said:

I was actually surprised that you lose your amateur status for giving lessons...didn't realize that.

Currently, you lose your amateur status if you simply declare yourself to be a professional.

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53 minutes ago, Hardspoon said:

I was actually surprised that you lose your amateur status for giving lessons...didn't realize that

Yeah. This is precisely why I never tell someone to keep their head down. 

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40 minutes ago, iacas said:

Currently, you lose your amateur status if you simply declare yourself to be a professional.

I declared that once. Much laughter ensued.

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1 hour ago, CarlSpackler said:

Yeah. This is precisely why I never tell someone to keep their head down. 

As long as you do not get paid to tell them to keep their head down you will be fine under the new rules.

I am open to changing my mind but After my initial read I like this proposal.

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The PGA of America probably isn't going to be very happy if this changes.  Could cost club pros a lot of money in merchandising.

On 2/23/2021 at 6:18 PM, CarlSpackler said:

I declared that once. Much laughter ensued.

🤣

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https://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/articles/2021/10/golfs-modernized-rules-amateur-status-published-usga.html#returnable

As part of the modernization effort, the new Rules identify only the following acts that will result in a golfer losing their amateur status:

  • Accepting a prize with a value exceeding the prize limit ($1000/£700) or accepting prize money in a handicap competition.
  • Playing as a professional.
  • Accepting payment for giving instruction (although all current exceptions still apply, such as coaching at educational institutions and assisting with approved programs).
  • Accepting employment as a golf club professional or membership of an association of professional golfers.

To achieve this simplified approach, the following key changes have been introduced:

  • Distinguishing between scratch and handicap competitions in terms of the prizes that may be accepted.
  • The prize rule applies only to tee-to-hole competitions played on a golf course or a simulator, but no longer apply to long-drive, putting and skills competitions that are not played as part of a tee-to-hole competition.
  • Eliminating all advertising, expense-related and sponsorship restrictions.

Also…

 

_121224032_driver_golf.jpg

The R&A is amending proposals that would have allowed humble hackers to pick up money for winning club tournaments played on a handicap basis, writes Iain Carter.

The new rules also shorten the time professionals, who might want to leave the paid ranks, must wait before regaining their amateur status to six months. 

"That's significant," Moir insisted.

"A shorter period means we are less likely to find people getting disillusioned and drifting off from the game. Getting them back in and playing amateur golf at an elite level will be a positive thing."

 

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2 hours ago, dsc123 said:

What's the logic behind allowing cash prizes for gross events but not net events?

"The new opportunities provided by lifting sponsorship restrictions and the ability to accept prize money up to the increased limit of £700 or $1000 in scratch-only competitions will be of significant benefit to elite amateur golfers looking for ways to fund golf-related expenses."

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3 hours ago, Rulesman said:

"The new opportunities provided by lifting sponsorship restrictions and the ability to accept prize money up to the increased limit of £700 or $1000 in scratch-only competitions will be of significant benefit to elite amateur golfers looking for ways to fund golf-related expenses."

Interesting.  Thanks.

Makes sense to allow that but I tend to think its silly to have a different rule for net events.  The +2 who wins the gross division can collect money and remain an amateur but the +10 who wins the net division is now considered a professional?  I doubt it will negatively effect many people, just seems odd to me.

 

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31 minutes ago, dsc123 said:

Interesting.  Thanks.

Makes sense to allow that but I tend to think its silly to have a different rule for net events.  The +2 who wins the gross division can collect money and remain an amateur but the +10 who wins the net division is now considered a professional?  I doubt it will negatively effect many people, just seems odd to me.

I don't think you mean "+10."

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7 hours ago, dsc123 said:

Interesting.  Thanks.

Makes sense to allow that but I tend to think its silly to have a different rule for net events.  The +2 who wins the gross division can collect money and remain an amateur but the +10 who wins the net division is now considered a professional?  I doubt it will negatively effect many people, just seems odd to me.

 

Of course the +2 and +10 (sic)  are actually playing as scratch players in the gross competition.

In fact everyone who contends a gross competition is playing a scratch competitor.

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