The USGA and R&A relaxed their rules in 2012 to allow golfers who won luxury cars or large cash prizes for making a hole-in-one during a round of golf to take them without losing amateur status. Now, the governing bodies are going the next step.
On Monday, officials with the two associations announced that amateurs will now be allowed accept prizes of any value for holes-in-one made outside of a round of golf as well. This would include standalone and multiple-entry hole-in-one events.
Additionally, prizes won in contests conducted other than on a golf course, such as at a driving range, or on a golf simulator or putting green, will be permitted, so long as the length of the shot is at least 50 yards.
The new rule will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.
“It is hoped the change will help to promote the game and cater to new audiences as well, and eliminate unnecessary restrictions for event organizers,” the USGA and R&A stated in a joint release.
That there was a distinction between the nature of hole-in-one contests was a sore point among some who wondered what truly was the difference if the prize was won in different settings.
Prior to the initial rule change, amateur golfers lucky enough to make an ace on a prize hole and earn the right to a new car or cash reward would do so at the expense of “turning professional” by accepting the prize. Many applied for amateur reinstatement, which was typically granted but not without the headache and hassle for the golfers of filling out paperwork and enduring a prerequisite waiting period require of all professionals to regain their status. Considering this, and the luck that's often involved in making a hole-in-one, rather than it being entirely based on skill, USGA/R&A officials conceded to the original change to the rules.