USGA Policies

USGA Policies

4-1/1 Condition Requiring Clubs Conforming with Groove and Punch Mark Specifications Effective January 1, 2010

A Committee that wishes to limit players to clubs manufactured with grooves and/or punch marks that conform to all aspects of the Rules of Golf that are effective from January 1, 2010, may adopt the condition of the competition detailed below.

The following link will provide clarification on if your irons/wedges conform to the USGA Groove Condition: USGA Groove Condition Site

Between January 1, 2010, and January 1, 2014, it is recommended that this condition of competition be adopted only for competitions involving the highest level or expert player. After January 1, 2014, this condition of competition may be adopted more widely (e.g. at the highest level of amateur golf), but it is recommended only for competitions involving expert players.

 “The player’s clubs must conform to the groove and punch mark specifications in the Rules of golf that are effective from January 1, 2010.

 Match Play – At the conclusion of the hole at which the breach is discovered, the state of the match is adjusted by deducting one hole for each hole at which a breach occurred; maximum deduction per round – Two holes.
 Stroke Play – Two strokes for each hole at which any breach occurred; maximum penalty per round – Four strokes.
 Match or stroke play – in the event of a breach between the play of two holes, the penalty applies to the next hole.
 Bogey and par competitions – See Note 1 to Rule 32-1a.
 Stableford competitions – See Note 1 to rule 32-1b.

 *Any club or clubs carried in breach of this condition must be declared out of play by the player to his opponent in match play or his marker or fellow-competitor in stroke play immediately upon discovery that a breach has occurred. If a player fails to do so, he is disqualified.


In Local (first stage) and Sectional (second stage) Qualifying as well as in the Championship proper, the player’s clubs must conform to the groove specifications in the Rules of Golf effective January 1, 2010. Note: Ping EYE2 clubs manufactured prior to April 1990 may not be used during Local and sectional qualifying as well as the Championship proper. The Condition of Competition is available for review on the entry application.

The USGA and R&A have created a reference resource called the Informational Database to assist golfers in determining whether their irons, hybrids and fairway woods comply with the New Groove Rules. For information about and to access the database, please use the following link: Additionally, for information regarding the conformance status of clubs not listed, please contact the USGA Research And Test Center at (908) 234-2300.

Player Club Testing is available for the 2011 U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open Championships. Please use the following link: for more information.

The USGA strongly suggests that all players verify the conformance of their clubs well in advance of their scheduled qualifying competition. It is the player’s responsibility, not the USGA’s responsibility to ensure that his clubs conform. Waiting until the day of the competition is the fault of the player. The Committee is under no obligation to test the club. The competitor may play. However, if it is later determined that the club is non-conforming, including after the competition has closed, the player will be disqualified.

The United States Golf Association writes and administers the Rules of Amateur Status because they believe that the distinction between amateur golf and professional golf should be maintained, and amateurs should not have to compete against golfers who make a living playing or teaching golf. They define an amateur golfer as one who plays the game as a non-remunerative and non-profit-making sport and who does not receive remuneration for golf activities because of golf skill or reputation. The complete Rules of Amateur Status can be found in the Rules of Golf booklet or on the UGSA website at  Please feel free to call the GAM at 248-478-9242, ext. 14, if you have questions.

Waiver of Right to Prize Money Form (.pdf)

Q:  As an amateur, can I play for prize money or its equivalent?

                A: No. You may play in an event where prize money is being given, but prior to participation, you must waive your right to accept prize money.

Q: What is the prize limit?

                A: You may not accept a prize (other than a symbolic prize) or prize voucher of retail value in excess of $750 in any one competition.

Q: Does that include a car for a hole-in-one?

                A:  A prize for a hole-in-one while playing golf may exceed the prize limit. The phrase “playing golf” is intended to include situations where the hole-in-one is incidental to a round of golf. It does not include contests at a driving range or where a player is allowed more than one opportunity on a hole to win the prize.

Q: Do I lose my amateur status if I enter a tournament as a pro?

                A: Yes.

Q: Do I lose my amateur status if I pass my Playing Ability Test (PAT)?

                A: No. However, if you become a PGA apprentice, and hold membership in any Professional Golfers’ Association, you do lose your status.  Exception: An amateur golfer may hold a category of PGA membership, provided the category does not confer any playing rights and it is purely for administrative purposes.

Q:  Can I accept expense money to play in a golf tournament?

                A: An amateur may receive expense money, not exceeding the actual expenses incurred. There is no limit on “family support,” but if the source is other than family, the expenses must be approved by and paid through the player’s  regional, state  or county golf association.

Q: Can I teach at a school or camp?

                A: Yes, but with provisions. If you are employed by an educational institution or a camp you may be paid for golf instruction provided that the total time spent in golf instruction comprises less than 50% of the time spent in the performance of all duties.

Q: If I lose my amateur status, can I get it back?

                A: Yes.  An applicant for reinstatement must apply to the United States Golf Association on their website, A fee will be required, and the USGA Amateur Status Committee will determine the waiting period for reinstatement.


Q: How long will the waiting period be?

                A: The waiting period is related to the period the person was in breach of the Rules, and it generally starts from the date of the person’s last breach of the Rules. Therefore, if the period of the breach was under five years, the applicant will probably wait one year from the date of the last breach. If the period of the breach was over five years, the applicant may wait two years for reinstatement.

Q: Can I play in golf tournaments during that waiting period?

                A: You may not enter competitions as an amateur. You may enter competitions among members of a club where you are a member, subject to the approval of that club. You may enter tournaments that are not limited to amateurs (Opens) without prejudicing your application, provided you do so as an “applicant for reinstatement.” In these tournaments you must waive your right to any prize money and must not accept a prize reserved for an amateur.

Q: How many times can I apply for reinstatement?

                A: Twice.

Q: How does gambling affect amateur status?

                A: There is no objection to informal gambling among individual golfers or teams when it is incidental to the game. Features that would be consistent with such gambling are: the players in general know each other, the gambling is optional and is limited to the players, the source of the money won is advanced by the players themselves, and the amount of the money is not excessive. In other words, the primary purpose is the playing of the game for enjoyment, not financial gain.

Q: What would unacceptable gambling be?

                A: Any form of gambling where the players are required to participate (e.g. compulsory sweepstakes) or involve considerable sums of money (e.g. calcuttas and auction sweepstakes – where players/teams are sold by auction) or where gambling is open to non-players.

For a complete schedule of USGA Qualifiers in Michigan Click Here

* Please note the GAM does not conduct the USGA Qualifiers outside of the state and the following Qualifiers at this time:

U.S.Women’s Open

*Pairings will be posted 5-7 days prior to the qualifier.*

**For additional information or registration please contact the USGA at 1-908-234-2300 or visit All applications must be filed on the USGA web site.**

***For help registering for USGA qualifiers, GAM Members can use this VIDEO which walks you through the process step-by-step.***