New rule amended to deter amateur cheats

The game's governing bodies have amended their initial proposals so that handicap golfers, like you and I, will not now be allowed to accept cash prizes from competitions.

After a six-month consultation period the R&A and USGA have decided not to allow the club golfer to pick up money for winning a handicap competition with the worry that players may be more likely to cheat.

"Cash prizes might just create a greater temptation than ordinary prizes," the R&A's Grant Moir said. "And obviously we're very keen to protect and maintain the integrity of the game in relation to how the rules of golf are applied and how the rules of handicapping are applied.

"It's a fine balance in a self-policing game. There was also a concern that there would be more money leaving the golf industry. The vouchers and the merchandise that are traditionally given as prizes keeps the money within the club and the industry. So we've changed that aspect and the ability to win prizes of money only applies in scratch-only competitions."

But there was good news for the elite amateurs in that they will be able to, from January 1, 2022, receive unlimited sponsorship and carry logos as well as being able to pick up cash prizes to a maximum of £700 or $1000 in scratch events.

"It means their opportunity to fund their amateur golf through some sponsorship, with the sponsor now able to gain benefit from that sponsorship, it does change the landscape and deliberately so. At that elite level, hopefully it makes it more inclusive because more people have potential access to funding that will help them make their way. As we know it costs money to compete."

And, should you have turned pro and want to return to the amateur game, you can now do so within six months.

"That's significant," Moir added. "A shorter period means we are less likely to find people getting disillusioned and drifting off from the game. Getting them back in and playing amateur golf at an elite level will be a positive thing."