AmateursJanuary 5, 2019

USGA investigating whether amateur golfer Lucy Li violated status by appearing in Apple ad

Lucy Li
Ross Kinnaird/R&A

Since she became the youngest person ever to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open as a 11-year-old in 2014, Lucy Li has been an amateur golfer on the rise. The Redwood Shores, Calif., resident has subsequently competed in the 2017 ANA Inspiration, finishing as low amateur, and another U.S. Women’s Open in 2018, as well as playing for the victorious U.S. Curtis Cup team last June and U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team last September. But with her appearance in a newly released video from Apple on Twitter showcasing the company’s Apple Watch, might the 16-year-old, No. 9 in the most recent World Amateur Golf Ranking, have compromised her amateur status?

In the 15-second video, Li is shown swinging a golf club with “Lucy L.” superimposed over her body. The video shows her practicing golf and hanging out with friends while wearing the Apple Watch, and it ends with a close-up on her face and the words “Close Your Rings,” which is part of an Apple marketing slogan.

Details of Li’s involvement in the video are unclear. Contacted by Golf Digest, Li said she had signed a non-disclosure agreement with Apple that prohibited her from discussing the video. Li’s mother, Amy, said via text message that Lucy and the family did not receive any compensation for being in the video. Inquiries with media relations staff at Apple had not been returned at the time of this post.

The USGA’s Rules of Amateur Status prohibit amateurs from using their golf skill or reputation “to obtain payment, compensation, personal benefit or any financial gain, directly or indirectly, for (i) promoting, advertising or selling anything, or (ii) allowing his name or likeness to be used by a third party for the promotion, advertisement or sale of anything.” Under Rule 6-2, it specifically states that “even if no payment or compensation is received, an amateur golfer is deemed to receive a personal benefit by promoting, advertising or selling anything, or allowing his name or likeness to be used by a third party for the promotion, advertisement or sale of anything.”

A USGA spokesperson told Golf Digest that the governing body was made aware of the video on Friday and has reached out to Li’s family to learn more about her participation. “We are at the beginning of the fact-finding stage, and it’s premature at this stage to discuss more,” said the spokesperson via email. “Lucy’s family has been fully cooperative, and we are thankful for the dialogue.”

RELATED: Lucy Li no longer a novelty in her second U.S. Women's Open

Li has set a variety of age-related records during her amateur career. In 2013, at 10 years, 8 months and 16 days, she became the youngest match-play qualifier in the history of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, a USGA championship that has since been retired. Later that year, Li became the youngest to ever qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Li speaks to the media after the second round of the 2014 U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst.

The following April, Li competed in the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club, where she won the Girls’ Age 10-11 division. She followed up that triumph by qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst, breaking Lexi Thompson’s previous record for the youngest player to earn a spot into the national championship.

Introducing Golf Digest All Access, a new way to improve


WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS