Grant Moir, director of rules at The R&A: “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 R&A and the USGA have announced proposals for significant changes to the Rules of Amateur Status that govern the game worldwide, with elite amateur golfers now being able to receive payment for sponsorship deals.
The proposals result from a modernisation review that 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.
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 modernisation effort, it is proposed that the new rules will identify only three acts that will result in a golfer losing their amateur status.
These are accepting a prize in excess of the prize limit, accepting payment for giving instruction, or accepting employment as a golf club professional or membership of an association of professional golfers.
To achieve this simplified approach, a number of key changes have been proposed, among them the elimination of all sponsorship restrictions, while restrictions will be removed surrounding competitions such as long-drive events, putting competitions and skills competitions that are not played as part of a tee-to-hole competition.
The distinction between cash prizes and other prizes will be eliminated and the prize limit will be used 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.
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.”
“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.”
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