USGA/R&A Policy on Gambling By Amateur Golfers

Statement from The Rules of Golf

(The Official Rules of Golf appear on the About.com Golf site courtesy of the USGA, are used with permission, and may not be reprinted without the permission of the USGA.)

This Policy on Gambling appears as an Appendix to the Rules of Amateur Status within the Rules of Golf, which are administered by the USGA and R&A.

General

An "amateur golfer," whether he plays competitively or recreationally, is one who plays golf for the challenge it presents, not as a profession and not for financial gain.

Excessive financial incentive in amateur golf, which can result from some forms of gambling or wagering, could give rise to abuse of the Rules both in play and in manipulation of handicaps to the detriment of the integrity of the game.

There is a distinction between playing for prize money (Rule 3-1), gambling or wagering that is contrary to the purpose of the Rules (Rule 7-2), and forms of gambling or wagering that do not, of themselves, breach the Rules. An amateur golfer or a Committee in charge of a competition where amateur golfers are competing should consult with the Governing Body if in any doubt as to the application of the Rules. In the absence of such guidance, it is recommended that no cash prizes be awarded so as to ensure that the Rules are upheld.

Acceptable Forms of Gambling

There is no objection to informal gambling or wagering among individual golfers or teams of golfers when it is incidental to the game.

It is not practicable to define informal gambling or wagering precisely, but features that would be consistent with such gambling or wagering include:

  • the players in general know each other;
  • participation in the gambling or wagering is optional and is limited to the players;
  • the sole source of all money won by the players is advanced by the players; and
  • the amount of money involved is not generally considered to be excessive.

Therefore, informal gambling or wagering is acceptable provided the primary purpose is the playing of the game for enjoyment, not for financial gain.

Unacceptable Forms of Gambling

Organized events designed or promoted to create cash prizes are not permitted. Golfers participating in such events without first irrevocably waiving their right to prize money are deemed to be playing for prize money, in breach of Rule 3-1.

Other forms of gambling or wagering where there is a requirement for players to participate (e.g., compulsory sweepstakes) or that have the potential to involve considerable sums of money (e.g., calcuttas and auction sweepstakes – where players or teams are sold by auction) may be considered by a Governing Body to be contrary to the purpose of the Rules (Rule 7-2).

It is not practical to define unacceptable forms of gambling or wagering precisely, but features that would be consistent with unacceptable gambling or wagering include:

  • non-players being able to participate in the gambling or wagering;
  • amounts of money that could be considered excessive; and
  • reason to believe that the gambling or wagering has given or may give rise to abuses of the Rules of play or manipulation of handicaps to the detriment of the integrity of the game.

    An amateur golfer's participation in gambling or wagering that is not approved may be considered contrary to the purpose of the Rules (Rule 7-2) and may endanger his Amateur Status.

    Note: The Rules of Amateur Status do not apply to betting or gambling by amateur golfers on the results of a competition limited to or specifically organized for professional golfers.

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