The R&A and USGA have outlined proposals for significant changes to the Rules of Amateur Status that, if accepted, will allow amateurs to accept sponsorship opportunities.
In a statement, the governing bodies explained that the proposals result from a modernisation initiative that has identified a clear need to bring the rules up to date in order to reflect today’s global amateur game and ensure that they are easier to understand and apply.
The organisations are now inviting feedback from golfers and stakeholders between now and March 26, 2021, with the new rules scheduled to be adopted on January 1, 2022.
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.
Grant Moir, Director of Rules at The R&A, explained: “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.”
Craig Winter, the USGA’s Senior Director of Rules of Golf and Amateur Status, added: “Golf is unique in its broad appeal to both recreational and competitive golfers.
"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.”