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Rules of Amateur Status

04 Jul 2009

As you may be aware there has recently been some confusion surrounding the issues of "Amateur Status" and the playing of golf for reward. The South African Golf Association ("SAGA") would like to take this opportunity to offer some clarity in this regard, having taken legal advice from our legal representatives.

The R&A and the United States Golf Association (the "USGA") meet every four years and jointly issue the Rules of Golf and the Rules of Amateur Status (collectively "the Rules"). The Rules govern the conduct of amateur golfers around the world and are enforced by the national amateur bodies of each country. In South Africa SAGA through its affiliation to the R&A is the recognized organization tasked with the enforcement of the Rules.

The Rules define an amateur golfer as "someone who plays the game as a non-remunerative or non-profit making sport and who does not receive remuneration for teaching golf or for other activities because of golf skill or reputation, except as provided in the Rules." The Rules forbid an amateur golfer to compete for prize money or for a prize valued in excess of R4500-00 which amount is set by the national amateur body, SAGA. Furthermore the Rules empower the national amateur body to remove the Amateur Status of any amateur golfer who transgresses these Rules.

SAGA has committed itself to upholding the integrity of, and acting in the best interests of, the amateur game. As such before breaking the Rules by electing to compete for prize money or for a prize valued in excess of the R4500-00 limit as set by SAGA, all amateur golfers should carefully consider the consequences of such an action. These will include SAGA:

1. revoking the Amateur Status of the transgressing player;
2. removing the SAGA handicap of the transgressing player; and
3. disaffiliating the transgressing player from SAGA.
Without Amateur Status a golfer will not be able to compete in any amateur or SAGA-sanctioned events at a club, provincial, national or international level. Without SAGA affiliation a player will not be able to play rounds at other affiliated clubs at an affiliated rate. Without a SAGA handicap a player will not be able to use his handicap when playing with other handicapped amateurs and will have to utilize another internationally recognized handicapping system when playing abroad.

SAGA is the only body competent to reinstate the Amateur Status of any golfer. For a transgressing player who has lost his Amateur Status, reinstatement typically takes between one and five years depending on the circumstances leading to the revocation of amateur status.

With these consequences borne in mind SAGA would like to advise all SAGA-affiliated members that they are free to forfeit their Amateur Status and the recognition and benefits that such status bestows. A player who has forfeited his Amateur Status will be free to play in any Tour or other non-amateur format that he wishes to and the sanctions imposed by SAGA will not in any way affect such a player's membership of his club, save that such a player will not be entitled to the benefits and discounted rates applicable to SAGA-affiliated club members. Furthermore such a player will be free to continue playing at any other club that will accept him with any other form of acceptable handicap.


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