Sponsored Handicap Competitions

The organizer of a sponsored individual or team handicap competition (i.e., “event”) may request approval to pay expenses (i.e., travel and accommodation costs) on behalf of the participants. If approved, amateur golfers participating in the event may accept actual and reasonable expenses.

For events held solely in the United States, approval must be granted by the USGA. Events held outside the United States must be approved by the USGA and the governing body of any other country involved with the competition.

Approved events receive a reference number that should be included on advertising literature and entry forms (e.g., Approved for payment of expenses – Rule 4-2g: US/01/2017).

Note: It is a matter for the appropriate Committee of a Governing Body (e.g., USGA Amateur Status Committee) to decide whether or not a particular event qualifies for approval, but the event should only be approved if it meets the guidelines outlined below.

Guidelines for Approval

The USGA will only consider an event for approval under Rule 4-2g if the following guidelines are met:

  1. The event must be a handicap individual or handicap team competition where the handicaps are applied. Competitions designed primarily for low handicap players that use gross scores do not qualify.
  2. The event must have a sponsor who financially supports the event for charitable or promotional reasons. An event is considered sponsored if the financial contribution is sufficient to at least cover the costs of all participants to the final stages of the competition.
  3. Entry into the competition must not be restricted on commercial grounds; for example, where entry is conditional upon purchase of a particular product or service. If there is an entry fee, the event cannot be entirely supported by these fees (see #2 above), but exceptions may be made for events conducted on an entirely charitable basis.
  4. All prizes must conform with Rule 3 (Prizes) of the Rules of Amateur Status.
  5. A participant may only have expenses covered in connection with the event for a maximum of seven days. This includes traveling, practice and competitive days, and also includes any “free” days incorporated within the expenses paid trip.
  6. The level of expenses covered for each individual should not exceed $1,500. The relevant expenses are limited to travel and accommodation costs only. Other costs, such as green fees and meals costs are not included in the expenses total. This is not a “retail value” figure and if organizers can, for example, arrange a reduced cost block booking, it is the reduced cost which is used in determining the level of expenses. However, the USGA reserves the right to apply special provisions in this regard to sponsors of competitions who can arrange travel and accommodation at unusually low prices, (e.g., airline or hotel groups), and who may thereby attempt to circumvent this level of expenses.
  7. There are no geographical restrictions on the venues of finals. However, if applicable, the USGA must obtain the approval of the Governing Body in the country in which the final will be held.


Application for Approval