Golf: USGA, R&A propose changes allowing amateurs to accept sponsorships

Under the proposed changes, amateur golfers will enjoy more freedom. PHOTO: USGA/INSTAGRAM

LONDON (REUTERS) - The Royal and Ancient (R&A) and United States Golf Association (USGA) on Monday (Feb 22) announced proposals to change the rules of amateur status, including removing sponsorship restrictions and allowing amateurs to enter competitions as professionals.

As part of its modernisation plans following a review of the rules of amateur status that began in late 2017, the two bodies proposed that amateur players should be allowed to accept cash prizes of up to US$750 (S$990) without losing their status.

The two bodies also sought to remove restrictions on rules surrounding long drive, putting and skills competitions that are not played as part of a tee-to-hole events.

The current rules state that amateur golfers cannot conduct or identify themselves as professional golfers and must waive rights to any prize money in competitions.

Under the proposed changes, amateur golfers will enjoy more freedom and will only lose their status if they accept prize money in excess of the set limit.

They can also be stripped of their status if they accept payment for giving instruction or gain employment as a golf club professional or membership of an association.

"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," the R&A director of rules Grant Moir said in a statement.

"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, said the organisation understood and valued the importance of amateur status.

"These updates should help simplify these rules and ensure the health of the amateur game."

The two organisations said they were inviting feedback from golfers and other stakeholders until March 26, with the new rules set to come into force from Jan 1, 2022.

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