The R&A and the USGA announce New Rules of Amateur Status for 2016

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The R&A and the United States Golf Association (USGA) have announced the latest revisions to the Rules of Amateur Status for golfers, which take effect on January 1, 2016. The Rules of Amateur Status will be published within the 2016 edition of the Rules of Golf, a collaborative work by The R&A and the USGA that applies to all golfers around the world.

Among the most significant changes to the 2016 Rules of Amateur Status are the following:

  • Prize Money to Charity – New Rule 3-1b enables an amateur golfer to participate in an event where prize money or its equivalent is donated to a recognised charity, provided the approval of the governing body is first obtained in advance by the organisers.
  • Golf-Related Expenses – New Rule 4-3 clarifies that an amateur golfer may receive reasonable expenses, not exceeding actual expenses incurred, for non-competition golf-related activities.  Former Rule 4-3 becomes Rule 4-4.
  • Reinstatement to Amateur Status – The recommended guidelines on periods awaiting reinstatement are amended to provide that a period in breach of the Rules of up to six years (previously up to five years) should result in a period awaiting reinstatement of one year.

Thomas Pagel, senior director of Rules of Golf for the USGA, said, “The new Amateur Code continues to provide appropriate limits and restrictions to encourage the amateur golfer to focus on the challenge of the sport, rather than on any financial gains. We also want to make it easier for golfers to return to the amateur sport if they no longer wish to play professionally.”

David Rickman, The R&A’s executive director of Rules and Equipment Standards, said, “After the fundamental review of Amateurism conducted in the previous Rules cycle, we have had a period of consolidation and have continued to develop the uniform Code. The new Code provides flexibility in terms of supporting recognised charitable causes, while remaining faithful to the principles of Amateurism.”

Additional Comments on Prize Money to Charity.

Until now, an amateur golfer has been prohibited in all respects from playing for prize money or its equivalent in a match, competition or exhibition. However, from January 1, 2016, under new Rule 3-1b, an amateur golfer will be able to participate in an event where prize money is offered and donate any winnings to a pre-determined recognised charity, provided the approval of the governing body is obtained in advance by the organisers of the event.

This change has been made to reflect the growing number of charitable golf exhibitions organised around the world in aid of worthwhile causes and disaster relief agencies. As long as the organisers seek prior approval from the governing body, an amateur golfer may donate any prize money to the identified charitable cause without compromising their Amateur Status.

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