Amateur golfers will be allowed to play for unlimited hole-in-one prizes under revisions to the Rules of Amateur Status announced today by The R&A in St Andrews.
Until now, prizes for holing a tee shot in amateur golf have been subject to the same restrictions as other competitions, including longest drive and nearest the pin. However, a Rule change which acknowledges the special nature of a hole-in-one during a round of golf means that restrictions on the prizes offered have been lifted.
The new Rules of Amateur Status also include changes for elite amateur golfers aimed at easing the difficult transition from amateur to professional golfer. It follows a far-reaching four-year review of amateurism in golf, which even questioned the need for a set of rules, and has resulted in the first-ever uniform, worldwide code for Amateur Status.
Announcing this and other changes to The Rules of Golf, effective from January 1 2012, The R&A's director of rules and equipment standards, David Rickman said: “We felt the time was right to carry out a fundamental review of the Rules of Amateur Status. We were conscious that many sports had done away with amateur status rules and we felt that was an appropriate question for us to ask.
“We concluded that it is very important that golf retains its amateur regulations, mainly because of the self-regulating nature of the game, both in terms of the playing rules and handicapping. We felt that uncontrolled financial incentives could place too much pressure on these important features.”
A new ruling (Rule 3-2b) excludes hole-in-one prizes from the general prize limit and allows high value prizes, including cash, to be awarded. This exception, which brings The R&A into line with the United States Golf Association (USGA) Rules of Amateur Status, is specific to prizes for holes-in-one achieved while playing a round of golf.
Neither separate events nor multiple-entry events qualify, according to the R&A which presumably means that expensive prizes for cash, a holiday or a car for example achieved on a simulator or a specific one-off golf hole, will be subject to previous regulations.
Suzann Pettersen, Major winner and R&A ambassador, says: “This is a really good change. Anyone who makes a hole-in-one knows there is a degree of luck.
“Most professional tournaments offer hole-in-one prizes and it adds some real interest for players and fans. It is great to think that club golfers can now experience that same excitement.”