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 is proposing significant changes to its existing Rules of Amateur Status that would make the concept of amateurism easier to understand and apply. New rules would clearly define three ways in which an amateur would cross the threshold into professional golf: by accepting a prize in excess of the $750 limit, by accepting payment for giving instruction or by accepting employment as a golf club professional or membership of an association of professional golfers (think the PGA Tour or LPGA).
Among the key changes proposed for the existing Rules of Amateur Status is the elimination of all sponsorship restrictions for amateurs. The USGA is also proposing that there be no distinction between cash prizes and other prizes – which could eliminate that mountain of pro shop credit competitive players often find themselves holding at the end of a season.
The governing body has taken a holistic view in crafting their proposed changes, approaching amateurism from the perspective of club golfers, elite amateurs and everyone in between.
As with all significant changes to the game, the USGA now enters a month-long feedback period for its proposals. That period closes on March 26, 2021, with the new Rules scheduled to be adopted on Jan. 1, 2022.
“We’ve definitely redefined what amateurism is through these proposals,” Craig Winter, USGA Senior Director, Rules of Golf and Amateur Status, told Golfweek. “We’re interested to hear what the public thinks, but we are very comfortable and at this time, we need amateurism in this game to keep its core alive and strong.”
Conversations about modernizing the USGA’s Rules of Amateur Status initially began in 2017 as the organization tackled an overhaul of the Rules of Golf.
During that process, the organization recognized that its current Rules don’t reflect amateur golf as a progression for elite young players