Golf's governing bodies backtrack on cash prizes in handicap competitions over cheating fears

·2-min read
Golf.
Golf.

Golf’s governing bodies have backtracked over proposals to allow cash prizes in handicap competitions over fears that actual money would make rule-breaking and rule-bending yet more irresistible for the cheats and bandits.

On Tuesday, the R&A and USGA announced the new regulations that will come into force on Jan 1, 2022, permitting amateurs to win up to £700 in scratch events.

However, after revealing the plan in February to relax restrictions across the board, the powers-that-be thought better of it after taking advice from different sections of the sport, including normal clubs where the “leather-wedge” brigade and handicap-fiddlers still represent a big problem in midweek and weekend shootouts.

Because of them, the monthly medal will still only feature pro-shop vouchers as the rewards. Balls, gloves, caps and, if they collect enough vouchers, maybe even clubs... but no hard currency.

"There was a concern particularly with handicap golf," Grant Moir, R&A's director of rules, admitted. “Cash prizes might just create a greater temptation than ordinary prizes. And obviously we're very keen to protect and maintain the integrity of the game in relation to how the rules of golf are applied and how the rules of handicapping are applied.”

Moir also claimed that the ever-struggling pro shops were also a factor. "There was also a concern that there would be more money leaving the golf industry,” he said. “It's a fine balance in a self-policing game.

"The vouchers and the merchandise that are traditionally given as prizes keeps the money within the club and the industry."

If it is bad news for those hacker fraudsters and swindlers, it is a significant step forward for elite amateurs, particularly those prodigies struggling for finance to fund their dreams. As well as the ability to put money in their pockets - albeit a long way short of what they could pick up in professional events - they will also be to receive unlimited sponsorship. That will obviously help the wannabes with their equipment and travelling expenses and take some pressure not lonely off the parents but off the national bodies.

“It almost redefines amateurism at the elite level," Moir told BBC Sport. "Particularly in relation to the removal of restrictions on contracts, promotion and advertising. It doesn't change anything on the golf course but away from the playing of the game it provides much greater opportunity."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting