What are the Rules of Amateur Status?

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Parksville, BC — 03 June 2016 — Golf Canada branding at the Canadian University/College Championship at Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville, BC. (Photo: Chuck Russell/Golf Canada)

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You may think of the Rules of Amateur Status as the proverbial “antidote for insomnia.” But you are guaranteed some sleepless nights if you choose to ignore them.

You may be thinking, “I’m not a high-roller who plays for tons of cash so those regulations don’t apply to me.”

You would be wrong.

As in most things legal, ignorance of the law is no defence. And breaking the Amateur Status rules, even unknowingly, can mean you won’t be allowed to participate in any amateur competitions for a significant period.

These Rules were revised and updated effective Jan. 1, 2022. According to Susan White, Golf Canada’s Chair of Amateur Status, they “exist to maintain the distinction between amateur and professional golfers and to protect the integrity of the game by minimizing pressure on the Rules of Golf and Handicapping. They give golfers the opportunity to level the playing field and to compete against each other using their handicaps.”

Golf Canada realizes not all amateur golfers are created equal so there are several guidelines that apply only to those players who have low handicaps and/or compete in high-level competitions. They are referred to as golfers of “skill or reputation” and have been successful at the provincial level or compete at the national level. In a related development, the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the U.S. ruled last year that college athletes, i.e., amateurs, can profit off their name, image and likeness.

But for the majority of us, the Amateur Status rules come into play only when we are tempted to participate in a calcutta (an auction-style betting format often found at pro-ams, member-guests and other events), gambling on the course, playing in tournaments with high-value prizes, hole-in-one competitions, etc.

How can you lose your amateur status?

  1. Accepting a prize with a value exceeding $1,200 Cdn or accepting prize money in a handicap (not scratch) competition. However, this prize rule applies only to tee-to-hole competitions played on a golf course or simulator but does not apply to long-drive, putting or other skills competitions that are not played as part of a tee-to-hole competition.
  2. Playing as a professional.
  3. Accepting payment for giving instruction with the exception of coaching at educational institutions and assisting with approved programs.
  4. Accepting employment as a golf clubs professional or membership in an association of professional golfers.

If you violate these rules, you will be subject to losing your amateur status, and your Golf Canada official handicap, for a length of time determined by Golf Canada. During that period, you cannot compete in any amateur competitions at any level. You must apply to Golf Canada to be reinstated.

For a complete explanation of the modernized Rules of Amateur Status, visit


Can I play in a calcutta?

Yes, as long as the money is from the players who are betting on their own group and others. It cannot be compulsory to participate and cannot be supported by sponsors.

Can I gamble with others?

Yes. Within reason. There is no set amount because what is reasonable for one person may be different for another person.  The guidance is that it is a reasonable amount among the players involved.

What if I get a hole-in-one?

Congratulations! The prize limit does not apply to a hole-in-one made outside a tee-to-hole competition or during a tee-to-hole competition provided the length of the shot is at least 50 yards.