Amateurs can accept prize money – if donated to charity

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Amateurs will now be allowed to accept professional prize money – but only if the winnings are donated to a pre-designated charity that has been cleared by the event organizer.

Rule 3-1b was one of the most significant changes to the Rules of Amateur Status, which will take effect on Jan. 1 

Previously, amateurs have been prohibited from playing for prize money. Under the new rule, amateurs will not jeopardize their status by participating in an event with prize money as long as they donate any winnings to a pre-determined charity. The change, the governing bodies said, arose because of a “growing number of charitable golf exhibitions organized around the world in aid of worthwhile causes and disaster relief agencies.”

The other notable change: allowing professionals of up to six years (not five) to apply for amateur reinstatement after a one-year waiting period.

Said Thomas Pagel, senior director of the Rules of Golf for the USGA: “The new Amateur Code continues to provide appropriate limits and restrictions to encourage the amateur golfer to focus on the challenge of the sport, rather than on any financial gains. We also want to make it easier for golfers to return to the amateur sport if they no longer wish to play professionally.”