To Golf is to Teach November 1, 2016 By Joe Foley, USGA

As a professional golfer, two-time USGA champion Nancy Lopez can teach the game to others in any way she chooses. (USGA/Jason E. Miczek)

The distinction between professional and amateur golf is usually clear – professional golfers hone their craft to earn a living, while amateur golfers spend their free time engaging recreationally or competitively. More specifically, professionals compete to win prize money and receive financial support from equipment companies, while amateurs play for small prizes and generally fund their own pursuits.

But what about teaching the game to others? How do we distinguish between a professional and an amateur when it comes to sharing tips about the golf swing or course management?

The first and most basic concept involves financial compensation. Professional golfers are permitted to receive compensation for teaching the mechanics of the golf swing – how one holds, swings and strikes a ball – while amateurs are permitted to teach the golf swing without receiving any financial gains or other compensation.

Both professionals and amateurs may teach other instructional concepts, such as certain mental approaches or course-management strategies, for financial gain. In other words, amateurs may teach these concepts under little restriction, while maintaining their amateur status.

That said, the USGA approves several programs in which participating amateurs may receive compensation for providing swing instruction. For those interested in contributing, reach out to your local chapter of The First Tee or contact a PGA professional who conducts a Get Golf Ready program.

Additionally, amateur golfers are permitted to receive payment for providing occasional written instruction related to the golf swing, as long as they weren’t given the opportunity due to their pedigree or achievements in the game. Finally, if employed by an educational institution, amateurs are permitted to teach the golf swing to students at the institution as long as the majority of their time is spent performing other duties. Are you a school teacher or administrator? Jump right in, every junior needs a good coach or mentor.

As we know, golf’s sustainability largely depends on the sharing of knowledge by professionals and amateurs alike. These one-on-one connections deepen our bonds with the game and break down barriers for new golfers.

In summary, both amateurs and professionals have a variety of opportunities to spread their passion for the game to others. So please share what you know, whether or not you call yourself a pro!  

For more information about the Rules of Amateur Status, please visit our Amateur Status resource page or call us at 908-326-1025.

Joe Foley is the manager of Rules Outreach and Programming for the USGA. Email him at jfoley@usga.org.

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