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Good news for elite amateur golfers

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Now, the likes of Rianne Malixi and Sam Dizon can compete with the logo of the chief backer in their caps or apparel without jeopardizing their amateur status.

This after the R&A, the governing body of golf worldwide, and the USGA made official the revised Rules of Amateur Status, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2022, allowing amateur players to receive cash prizes not more than $1,000.

“For the majority of the millions of golfers who tee it up every day, accepting prize money or being paid for use of image and likeness is only a dream – and the risk of losing ‘amateur status’ is meaningless. But for the hundreds of thousands of golfers who compete at the serious amateur level, being ‘freed up’ to receive a little cash will have an impact,” according to the USGA and the R&A.
“Traveling the country playing amateur golf is expensive,” it added.

Only the following acts will result in a playing losing his/her amateur status:
– Accepting a prize with a value exceeding the prize limit ($1000/£700) 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
To achieve this simplified approach, the following key changes have been introduced, including distinguishing between scratch and handicap competitions in terms of the prizes that may be accepted.

The prize rule also applies 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.

It also eliminates all advertising, expense-related and sponsorship restrictions.

The last point is the one that will allow rising stars to potentially earn significant income for allowing their use of name and likeness in advertising campaigns.

“The new opportunities provided by lifting sponsorship restrictions and the ability to accept prize money up to the increased limit of $1000 or £700 in scratch-only competitions will be of significant benefit to elite amateur golfers looking for ways to fund golf-related expenses,” the R&A said.

The 2018 Asian Games women’s golf team of Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan and LK Go, who swept the individual (Saso) and team gold medals in Jakarta, decided to donate a total amount of P16.8 million to the National Golf Association of the Philippines than risked their then amateur status (for Saso and Pagdanganan). Ko remains as an amateur.

Malixi and Dizon, whose campaigns are supported by ICTSI along with the country’s top amateurs, have been winning tournaments abroad with the new R&A ruling expected to free them from concerns over the wearing of their sponsor’s logo in their caps or bags.

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