Prizes for Amateur Golfers

Bryden MacphersonElite professional golfers play for huge prize funds every week and some golfers become phenomenally wealthy as a result, but what about amateur golfers? On those rare occasions that you play well and win a prize, what can you accept? What do the new 2012 Rules of Amateur Status say about prizes?

Symbolic Prizes

An amateur golfer may accept a symbolic prize of any value (Rule 3-2a).  What is meant by a “symbolic prize”? Well, this is a trophy (e.g. a cup, medal, plaque, etc.) made of gold, silver, ceramic, glass, etc., that is permanently and distinctively engraved. So if you manage to win The Open this year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes as an amateur – Bobby Jones did it in 1926 – that replica Claret Jug is all yours.

However, gold bullion is not a symbolic prize – it is not possible to circumvent the Rules in that way, even if the gold bullion is engraved!

Cash Prizes

The first thing to note is that an amateur golfer must not play golf for prize money (Rule 3-1).  That applies regardless of whether the prize money is £5, £500 or £5000. And if a cash prize is offered, all those competing in the competition would be in breach of the Rules, not just the players who win and accept a cash prize.

Many amateurs, particularly the top amateurs, compete in professional events where cash prizes are on offer and gain invaluable experience from doing so. That participation is fine, provided  in advance of the competition, in writing, the amateur waives the right to accept any prize money in the event. An example of an acceptable form of waiver can be found in Decision 2-1/11.

Prize Limit

An amateur golfer may accept a prize or prize voucher of retail value no greater than £500, or the local currency equivalent (Rule 3-2a).  A Governing Body may set a lower prize limit if it wishes to do so – always check what the prize limit is in your country. 

This £500 prize limit applies to the total prizes or prize vouchers won by an amateur golfer in any one competition, e.g. main prizes (1st, 2nd, 3rd etc), longest drive, nearest the hole, etc. or a series of competitions.