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Hole In One Insurance News - Foresite Sports

Friday, February 8, 2008

Hole In One Contests & the USGA

In 2006, the USGA, golf's governing body, made significant changes to the treatment of hole in one contest prizes and one's amateur status. As a leader in hole in one insurance, Foresite Sports followed the proceedings closely. However, two years after the initial declaration, questions regarding how hole in one prizes affect one's amateur status are still asked, so we thought we'd revisit the issue today.

Pre-2006, any golfer who accepted a prize valued above $750 was immediately considered a professional, and could no longer play in competitive, amaetur-only tournaments. Hole in one contests, putting contests, closest to the pin contests, you name it. If you accepted the prize, you bid farewell to your amateur status. Seeing the problems with this strict interpretation of the "play for pay" rules in the game, the USGA altered the rules regarding hole in one prizes several years ago.

Since 2006, the rules have been such: if you are playing a round of golf, and make a hole in one that awards a prize of any value, you do not risk losing your amateur status by accepting it. However, in this statement lie several critical areas for confusion. First and foremost, the hole in one contest must take place during the course of play. This means that hole in one contests at driving ranges, in simulators, or even the popular 'shootouts' for which Foresite Sports and its competitors sell hole in one insurance are not covered by the new ruling. Accept a prize from a contest under these circumstances, and you're a pro in the eyes of the USGA. Addtionally, if the contest allows multiple shots or mulligans, the new rule does not apply; again, only if the contest takes place during the normal course of play for which the rest of the USGA rules apply. Finally, for those select few who receive closest to the pin prizes valued above $750, you're a professional golfer now.

So that's the "new" rule regarding hole in one contest prizes and a golfer's amateur status. Also important to note is that the R&A still has not modified its rules on the topic, so if you're playing in any events overseas that are sanctioned by this governing body, remember the magic number is $750. Of course if you happen to become a "professional" by accepting a hole in one prize outside of this ruling, and don't make a habit of it, you can always apply for reinstatement of your amateur status a year or two after taking home a prize.

For all of our tournament directors who are reading this, never fear; you should certainly still purchase hole in one insurance for your upcoming event. Few if any golfers at your tournament are likely affected by these rules, and those golfers who are serious about their amateur status usually know the rules and voluntarily abstain from participating in hole in one contests for fear of jeopardizing their coveted status as an amateur golfer.