Can Amateur Golfers Earn Salaries?
© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.
The compensation of golfers is defined by the United States Golf Association, in consultation with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St. Andrews, Scotland. Both organizations share authority over the Rules of Golf and its decisions. The current rules apply from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2016.
The USGA governs golf worldwide. Its rules define an “amateur golfer” as “one who plays golf for the challenge it presents, not as a profession and not for financial gain,” whether or not he plays “competitively or recreationally.” Such a player concentrates on golf’s skills and challenges, and personal rewards, rather than money. As such, amateur golfers cannot earn a salary if they want to keep their non-professional status. The organization sees amateur golf as primarily self-regulating. Any “uncontrolled financial incentive” could add pressure to this self-regulation, which could negatively affect the “integrity of the game.”
A golfer who plays the game as a profession, works as a professional or enters a golf competition as a professional is no longer considered an amateur, and becomes ineligible to pay in amateur competitions. However, amateurs can compete in qualifying competitions to be eligible for membership in a Professional Tour. However, they must waive their right in writing to any prize money to maintain amateur status. Amateurs may also participate in golf matches, competitions or exhibitions where prizes are offered, but only if he states in writing that he is declining any prize money
Amateur golfers can work in a professional’s shop and receive salaries or wages, if that compensation does not infringe on the rules. They can also ask about becoming a professional and apply for such a position, but remain an amateur if the application is rejected. Amateur golfers can accept prizes under certain conditions, such as for hole-in-one competitions, as long as the prize does not exceed $750, or other amount determined by the USGA. This is the total amount allowed in any one competition or series of competitions. Testimonial awards from different donors can exceed this limit, if the money has not been split up just to evade the limits.
In general, amateurs are not allowed to accept expenses for playing in competitions or exhibitions. Some exceptions exist. For example, he may receive expenses from family members or legal guardians. If he is under 18, he can be compensated for expenses from other sources, but only if the competition is solely for junior golfers. Golfers who want to receive expenses for participating in individual events may do so only with the previous approval of the relevant country, state, regional or national golfing association. As a member of a golf team, amateur golfers can receive expenses but only if he is representing his country, a golf association, his golf club, or his industry. These expenses can apply to team competitions, practice sessions and training camps. He may also receive expenses if he is invited for reasons that are not related to golf, such as being a celebrity or business associate.
- USGA: Rules and Decisions
Information on amateur golf from the United States Golf Association.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the principal fact-finding agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics.
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