Each year, the USGA conducts the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, and there's a spot in the Masters on the line, so it's a big deal not only for the championship but for the perks of winning that trophy.
However, a lot of fans are confused as to what a Mid-Amateur is, who qualifies as one and what makes a Mid-Amateur different than a regular ole amateur.
To be considered a Mid-Amateur or Mid-Am, a player must be at least 25 years old when the competition starts and that competitor must have a USGA handicap index of 3.4 or lower. That index requirement is a full index point higher than the 2.4 index maximum for the U.S. Amateur.
The idea behind the Mid-Am classification and the existence of the championship is that the U.S. Mid-Amateur offers an opportunity for slightly older golfers to compete at a high level. This event keeps out college players and other younger amateurs who routinely have strong competition through their programs. The U.S. Mid-Amateur started in 1981, with the women's edition of the event starting in 1987.