Now amateurs to earn prize money in new golf rules

  • November 1, 2021
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Effective 1st January 2022 elite amateurs will be allowed to receive prize money, enter into sponsorship contracts and earn from providing golf lessons.

In revised rules published by The R&A and the USGA, amateurs can receive cash prizes not exceeding $1,000 or £700 in scratch competitions while the prize limit for handicap competitions has also been capped at a similar amount from the previous $750.

But in a radical departure, amateurs have been granted a blank-cheque to negotiate with sponsors “to enter into a contract or agreement and receiving financial compensation from that contract or agreement”.

“The new Rules were informed by golfer and golf industry feedback as part of a comprehensive review, to ensure they continue to reflect how the modern game is played by millions of golfers around the world. The result is a set of Rules that removes many of the restrictions that previously applied to amateur golfers, while ensuring that the integrity of the game is protected by limiting the form and value of the prizes an amateur golfer can accept,” The R&A and the USGA said in a statement.

Cash prizes will only be allowed in scratch competitions which do not have a “net score element in any part of the competition and handicaps must not be used to separate players into different scratch categories”. Amateurs playing in a handicap competition are not allowed to accept prize money. The statement warned that a competition cannot be played in both scratch and handicap format.

However, the prize limit does not apply to long drive competitions, target competitions, competitions involving specific skills or a prize for a hole-in-one.

The game changer is no doubt the move to allow amateurs to earn some cash through product endorsements.  Amateur golfers have been given the greenlight to accept payment or compensation, including expenses, for using or allowing the use of their name, image or likeness to promote or sell a product or service. The R&A and USGA however warned that players entering into a contract or agreement should consult with the local national governing body to ensure that it does not impact on any other eligibility criteria applied by another organization or institution.

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“This is particularly important for modern elite amateur golf, where many of the players need financial support to compete and develop to their full potential. The new Rules give them this opportunity and will help to make the game even more inclusive,” Grant Moir, Director of Rules at The R&A, said.

Amateurs may also earn from teaching but only in programmes approved in advance by the national governing body, as an employee of a school/college, or when the instruction is given in writing or online, and not to a specific individual or group. “An amateur who accepts payment or compensation for giving instruction, including as part of salaried duties, becomes a non-amateur,” the statement warns.

Golfers will continue to enjoy gambling but R&A and USGA warned that “if the national governing body considers certain gambling or wagering to be detrimental to the integrity of the game, the national governing body may review the amateur status of the participants”. Among the measures to be adhered to when wagering include- the players generally know each other, participation in the gambling or wagering is not required and all money won is contributed by the participants.

The R&A and USGA said prior to coming into play in January, national governing bodies, including Kenya Golf Union, are expected to provide local interpretation on the application of the revised rules.

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