Clarification on Amateur Status

The R and A policy is clear and concise and states as follows:

“Except as provided in the Rules, an amateur golfer must not receive payment or compensation, directly or indirectly, for giving instruction in playing golf.”

In their decisions on the rules the R&A are very clear as to when payment is permitted and these are set out below.

Where Payment Permitted

Schools, Colleges, Camps, etc.

An amateur golfer who is (i) an employee of an educational institution or system or (ii) a counsellor at a camp or other similar organised programme, may receive payment or compensation for golf instruction to students in the institution, system or camp, provided that the total time devoted to golf instruction comprises less than 50 percent of the time spent in the performance of all duties as such an employee or counsellor.

Approved Programmes

An amateur golfer may receive expenses, payment or compensation for giving golf instruction as part of a programme that has been approved in advance by the SAGA – see below for more details.

Instruction in Writing

An amateur golfer may receive payment or compensation for golf instruction in writing, provided his ability or reputation as a golfer was not a major factor in his employment or in the commission or sale of his work. And that’s it. The game as we all know is self regulating so who has the duty to inform the amateur Unions of a breach? Well in the first place the person in “breach” be they a skilled golfer or not. Unfortunately this does not happen in practice and we get many reports of amateurs knowing or indeed unknowingly in breach.

How the PGA are managing it:

  • Advise the golfer of the situation and recommend to them what they should do. Only if the golfer refuses to or ignores your advice would we suggest the next step.
  • Advise the club and the provincial unions of the breach.
  • Again if the club or provincial union does not take up the matter then,

Advise the PGA head office so we can take the matter further with the national body the SAGA.

What follows are some examples that might make the situation of breaches clearer

Question: An amateur golfer would like to help a local school in teaching the pupils to play golf. Can the golfer receive payment or compensation?

Answer: NO. Only if the coaching is part of a programme, approved by the Governing Body (in our case the SAGA).

Question: May a full-time teacher in a school or other educational institution, who is employed by an Education Authority, teach golf at classes for which he receives a separate payment?

Answer: Yes, provided:-

  • The classes are held at the school where the teacher is employed.
  • Only pupils or students from that school may be taught.
  • Payment to the teacher shall be made by the school concerned, and not by the pupils/students themselves.
  • The total time devoted to golf instruction during a year comprises less than 50% of the time spent on other school duties.

Question: What constitutes an approved programme and how is this decided?

Answer: The intention of the Rule is to encourage the involvement of volunteers with programmes aimed at introducing young people to golf, with such volunteers providing support to qualified members of a Professional Golfers’ Association. At times it might be considered reasonable to reimburse volunteers for their time in coaching as part of such a programme.

The must be approved in advance by the Governing Body (SAGA) thereby ensuring that the programme is co-ordinated or sanctioned appropriately.

The following matters must be considered in determining guidelines for the approval of such programmes by a Governing Body (SAGA):

  • The national Professional Golfers’ Association in the country concerned should be consulted and the programme should be co-ordinated between the Governing Body and the national PGA.
  • An age limit may be applied to those receiving coaching. However, in countries where golf is a relatively new sport or the number of qualified PGA professionals is limited, it may not be appropriate to apply an age limit.
  • A reasonable limit should be put on the length of time an amateur golfer may coach as part of an approved programme e.g. the number of hours in any week, month or year, and /or a reasonable limit should be put on the amount of remuneration paid to an amateur golfer e.g. the maximum amount in any week, month or year.
  • A programme’s approval should be reviewed annually by the Governing Body.
  • An amateur golfer of golf skill or reputation must not lend his name or likeness to the promotion or advertisement of the programme

Further to this – at the ‘Working for Golf’ Conference held by the R and A in May 2009, the R and A stated that where a Professional Golf Association exists in a country, with a formal education & training programme – amateur coaches involved in approved/recognised golf programmes, should attend a Level 1 Coaching Certified course to ensure that the correct methods and fundamentals of instruction are understood and used.