Good news! Now you can make a hole-in-one in a contest and win as much money as you like, and you can accept the prize while still maintaining your amateur status.
The USGA and the R&A are taking a fresh look at the rules of amateur status, looking into revamping the rules which dictate when and why a golfer is considered an amateur or considered a professional. As part of this examination, which is set to be completed and issued in time for the beginning of 2022, the governing bodies have changed the rules around prizes amateur golfers can accept specifically for hole-in-one contests without having to turn pro.
As of Jan. 1, 2020, the new language around Rule 3-2b of the Rules of Amateur Status will read:
"An amateur golfer may accept a prize in excess of the limit in Rule 3-2a, including a cash prize, for making a hole-in-one during a round of golf on a golf course.
An amateur golfer may also accept a prize in excess of the limit in Rule 3-2a, including a cash prize, for making a hole-in-one during contests held outside a round of golf, including multiple-entry contests and contests conducted other than on a golf course (e.g., on a driving range, golf simulator, or putting green) provided in all cases that the length of the shot is at least 50 yards."
Rule 3-2 of the Rules of Amateur Status has said:
"An amateur golfer must not accept a prize (other than a symbolic prize) or prize voucher of retail value in excess of $750 or the equivalent, or such a lesser figure as may be decided by the Governing Body."
That remains true moving forward, specifically for golf contests outside of hole-in-one contests.
The governing bodies said in a joint statement they are making the change in hopes "the change will help to promote the game and cater to new audiences as well as eliminate unnecessary restrictions for event organizers."
Perhaps the most famous example of the dilemma a hole-in-one contest winner has faced is Jason Bohn, who won $1 million when he made a hole-in-one in a standalone contest in 1992. He had to make the decision as to whether he would take the money and turn pro that instant or if he would remain an amateur and not become an instant millionaire.
Starting in 2020, golfers won't have to make this choice again.