Amateur Status…

mulligan, 25 June 2005, Comments Off on Amateur Status…
Categories: Uncategorized

Over the past couple of weeks, has been noting many players moving from the amateur ranks into the professional ranks. However, has not discussed exactly what it means to be an amateur, and with many (a)’s next to player’s names at this week’s US Women’s Open, now is a good time to discuss what it basically means to be an amateur.

So for those golfers or viewers, who are unaware of what exactly it means to be an amateur, the USGA has a set of 9 rules on what it means to be an amateur. According to the USGA and R&A, “An ‘amateur golfer’ is one who plays the game as a non-remunerative and non-profit-making sport and who does not receive remuneration for teaching golf or for other activities because of golf skill or reputation, except as provided in the Rules.”

Basically, everyone is an “amateur golfer” unless fail to follow the rules, in which they lose their amateur status and become ineligible for amateur competition. For most golfers, the thought of “amateur status” does not cross their mind. However, for those golfers who compete in “bigger” amateur competitions or former professionals who want to become amateurs again, maintaining or regaining their amateur status is important.

Put in layman’s terms, amateur golfers cannot collect any prize money for placing in an event. Rule 3-1 states:

An amateur golfer must not play golf for prize money or its equivalent in a match, tournament or exhibition.

A player may participate in an event in which prize money or its equivalent is offered, provided that prior to participation he irrevocably waives his right to accept prize money in that event. (See USGA Policy on Gambling for explanation of playing for prize money.)

Thus, if Wie or Pressel win tomorrow, they will not be able to accept any of the purse. Amateurs are able to accept mechandise with a retail value no more than $750, other than a “symoblic prize,” and this is why most amateur tournaments give out “gift certificates” instead of cash prizes. And for those of you who have made a hole-in-one for a new car, there is an explicit exception for those. Rule 3-2 states:

An amateur golfer must not:
a. Accept a prize (including all prizes received in any one tournament or exhibition for any event, or series of events, in which golf skill is a factor) of a retail value greater than $750 (except for symbolic prizes);

b. Accept a prize of money or the equivalent of money;
c. Convert a prize into money;
d. Accept expenses in any amount to a golf competition (except as provided in Rule 4); or
e. Because of golf skill or reputation, accept in connection with any golfing event:
(i) money, or
(ii) anything else, other than merchandise of
nominal value provided to all players.

Also, if Wie or Pressel win, they will only be able to accept the trophy, a so-called “symbolic prize” (a trophy made of gold, silver, ceramic, glass or the like that is intended for display purposes only and has no significant utilitarian value) and will have to forgo the prize money they would have won if they were professional.

There are many more rules on amateur status, which those interested should feel free to check out the USGA’s 9 rules on Amateur Status. But, now when watching the US Women’s Open tomorrow, you will be able to understand what the (a) means next to some of the player’s names.


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