28 Oct 2021 | Amateur golf |

New prize regulations for Australian clubs as amateur status rules change

by Golf Australia

Amateur golf image
The amateur status rules have been updated. Photo: Getty

Golf’s international governing bodies, the R&A and the United States Golf Association, have published a series of changes to the Rules of Amateur Status. The updated Rules will take effect worldwide on 1 January 2022.

This work is the latest step by the governing bodies to make the Rules easier to understand and apply and follows the modernisation process of the Rules of Golf in 2019, and the launch of the World Handicap System in 2020. The new Rules were informed by golfer and golf industry feedback as part of a comprehensive review, to ensure they continue to reflect how the modern game is played by millions of golfers around the world.

The updated prize regulations are the main Amateur Status Rules that impact the operation of clubs and facilities. The following key changes have been introduced to the prize regulations:

  • Distinguishing between scratch and handicap competitions in terms of the prizes that may be accepted.

  • The prize rule applies only to tee-to-hole competitions played on a golf course or a simulator but no longer applies to long-drive, putting, and skills competitions that are not played as part of a tee-to-hole competition.

The complete new prize regulations are provided below.


A. Handicap Competitions

An amateur playing in a handicap competition is not allowed to accept prize money, but may accept any other prize up to a limit of $1,350 in value.

  • ‘Prize money’ is considered to include: cash, physical or digital currency, cheques, bank deposits, and shares, stocks and bonds. Gift cards and debit cards that are redeemable for cash (or can be used to withdraw cash) are also considered prize money.

  • Vouchers for any of the following may be issued as a prize in a handicap competition (as they are not considered to be ‘prize money’):

    • Goods & services from a pro shop or clubhouse (including food & beverage, whether packaged or unpackaged).

    • For crediting to a club account (including to pay for items that have been purchased prior to the winning of the voucher). Vouchers may also be redeemed for use of a practice area, competition fees, coaching, golf cart hire, green fees.

    • Membership fees.

    • For any specific item (or for items generally) from a retail outlet (includes for example Myer or David Jones).

    • Gift cards or gift vouchers or the like for redemption at any retail outlet.

    • Goods available from a butchery, bakery, grocery, etc.

    • Electricity accounts, telephone accounts and other utilities.

    • Petrol.

    • Feel free to contact us with queries on other potential voucher items.

  • $1,350 will be the new Australian prize limit (up from the current $1,200 limit).

  • The value of a prize is the price at which the item is generally available to purchase from a retail source at the time the prize is accepted.

B. Scratch Competitions

An amateur playing in a scratch competition (including a scratch competition conducted by a golf club or facility) is allowed to accept any prize (including prize money) up to a limit of $1,350 in value.

  • For the purposes of the Rules of Amateur Status, a scratch competition is a competition that does not have a net score element in any part of the competition and handicaps must not be used to separate players into different scratch categories. Any competition that is not a scratch competition is considered by the Rules of Amateur Status to be a handicap competition. Note: In a scratch competition, handicaps may be used to limit who is eligible to enter, such as allowing entry only to players with a GA Handicap of 5.0 or better.

  • Regardless of how much prize money an amateur competes for (and whether they are playing in a field that includes both amateurs and professionals), the player will only forfeit their amateur status if they accept a prize in excess of the $1,350 limit.

C. General

The $1,350 limit applies to:

  • Any tee-to-hole golf competition involving a score for a hole, regardless of where that competition is played, for example on a golf course or a golf simulator. (A ‘tee-to-hole golf competition’ is a one that involves playing a designated number of holes from tee to green and establishing a score or result for each hole, regardless of the number of holes in the round.)

  • Any skills competition where the shot is played during a tee-to-hole golf competition.

  • The total prizes accepted by an individual in a single competition (or in multiple competitions being conducted at the same time, for example individual and team competitions).

  • Note: The cost of a metal or glass trophy, or of a similar prize, is not restricted by the $1,350 limit and may be of any value.

There are no limits on the value of prizes or prize money for:

  • A hole-in-one of at least 50 yards when it is made during a tee-to-hole golf competition.

  • A hole-in-one of any distance when it is made outside a tee-to-hole golf competition.

  • Any of the following when they are NOT conducted during a tee-to-hole golf competition: long drive competitions, target competitions, competitions involving specific skills, trick shots, and competitions that solely involve putting.


Outside of the changes to the prize regulations, the key changes to other Amateur Status Rules are:

  • An amateur golfer will no longer have any restrictions placed on their capacity to accept sponsorships, payments or compensation for using or allowing their name, image or likeness to be used to promote or sell a product or service. This new flexibility applies to all golfers, regardless of their ability or public profile.

  • The period awaiting reinstatement to Amateur Status for former professional golfers has been decreased to 6 months (down from the current period of 1 or 2 years, where the length of time has been dependent on the period the player was a pro).

The complete new Rules of Amateur Status (together with guidance notes) are available from the R&A here.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at rules&handicapping@golf.org.au

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