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USGA, R&A Simplify the Line Between Amateur, Pro Golfers

The rule changes are designed to help elite amateur golfers better understand what they can and can't do to retain amateur status.

The difference between an amateur and professional golfer should be easier to determine under new rules announced today by the R&A and USGA that will take effect Jan. 1, 2022.

You can read the entire release here. The new rules spell out "only the four following acts that will result in a golfer losing their amateur status:"

  • Accepting a prize with a value exceeding the prize limit (£700/$1,000) or accepting prize money in a handicap competition.
  • Playing as a professional.
  • Accepting payment for giving instruction (although all current exceptions still apply, such as coaching at educational institutions and assisting with approved programs).
  • Accepting employment as a golf club professional or membership of an association of professional golfers.

The changes are part of the USGA and R&A's effort to update the rules of golf and make them easier to understand. The rules now distinguish between acceptable prizes in scratch and handicap competitions and apply only to "tee-to-hole competitions played on a golf course or a simulator, but no longer apply to long-drive, putting and skills competitions that are not played as part of a tee-to-hole competition."

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The changes also eliminate all advertising, expense-related and sponsorship restrictions.

"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," according to the release.