Amateur Forfeits Status After Skins Game
By mustang6560 on 11/9/11
Next time you win in a skins game, make sure the amount totals less than $750 or the USGA might professionalize your status.
The United States Golf Association on Oct. 20 ruled that McCaffrey “professionalized his playing status” on Aug. 21 by accepting $8,500 in prize money from a skins game at Beeville Country Club. Accepting prize money is a violation of Rule 3 of the USGA’s Rules of Amateur Status.

. . .

“The USGA ruling follows a lengthy investigation,” Goode said. “As soon as he accepted the prize money, he professionalized his status.”
Mike McCaffery, the individual who lost his amateur status, is a well known amateur player in Texas. And from the sounds of it, he seems like a very successful golfer. Most recently, he won the Texas Golf Associations Mid-Amateur Championship in September, but because his status was retroactively professionalized in August, he had to forfeit his victory.

Part of me feels bad for Mike because he lost his status over a skins game, but the majority of me think it's his own fault. As an outstanding amateur player, it is his responsibility to know and understand the USGA rules on amateur and professional status (see Rule 3-2). Further, he had his amateur status reinstated by the USGA after years of playing in mini tour events so how he didn't know about the prize limit is beyond me.

Mike said he hired an attorney and plans to appeal the ruling. His defense is it was a skins game and as soon as he realized the prize was above the USGA limit, he returned it to Beeville Country Club. But according to the USGA, "after-the-fact-repayment" is not a valid defense to the violation.

I'm very interested to see how this plays out.

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photo via Chasing Birdies

[ comments ]
bducharm says:
That's one heck of a skins game!!! I need to get in on that!!! Mike indeed is a great player and I'm sure it never crossed his mind that the skins game would jeopardize his status.
birdieXris says:
I have no sympathy for the guy. Number one, it's a SKINS GAME. 99% of people who play or even watch golf know what that is. By definition, you win money. The first thought across this guy's brain and out of his lips should have been "will this affect my amateur status". IMO, he tried to get in under the radar and it didn't work. There's no reason for him not knowing. I think he'll have a tough time getting his status reinstated next time.
homermania says:
Poor guy, that's really too bad.
bkuehn1952 says:
After playing professionally as recently as 2009, Mr. McCaffery apparently had to work some to get reinstated. He eventually won back his amateur status based in part on some health issues. It is hard to understand how he could accept a check for $8,500 without any consideration of how that would affect his amateur standing. As a former professional he, perhaps more so than most of us, should understand that once you are in breach of the rules, you can’t wipe away the error with a claim that you didn’t know or understand: ground your club in the bunker – 2 strokes, accept a bucket of money, lose your amateur status.
falcon50driver says:
Never understood why it's so important to have amateur status anyway? If you're good enough to win serious money a golf then go out and win it. What's the advantage of calling yourself an amateur? Somebody here can surely explain it to me. A couple of years ago, I won a new Ford Mustang GT in a golf tournament for a hole in one, does that make me a professional?
mmontisano says:
can you be a pro and not play on any tours or teach on top of having a normal job? just so when someone invites to you to a skins game like this you won't have to worry about taking the money?
bkuehn1952 says:
@M3D: You are in the clear.

Excerpt from USGA Amateur Status rules:

b. Hole-in-One Prizes
An amateur golfer may accept a prize in excess of the limit in Rule 3-2a ($750),
including a cash prize, for a hole-in-one made while playing a round of golf.
falcon50driver says:
Thanks BK, I appreciate you taking the time to look at the rule. I still don't know why it is so important to be classified an amateur though. Surely it must be to qualify for something, maybe scolorships or something?
bkuehn1952 says:
@M3D: Yes, I think you are correct on the scholarship idea. Up to and through college, it is important for really good young players to maintain their amateur status to qualify for scholarship money. Once done with college the idea of amateur status becomes more murky. I think a lot of college golfers test the waters of professional mini tours. Most discover pro golf is not the way to go. So now they return to normal life, get a job and join a local prestigous golf club. The problem is they can't play in the club championship, member/guest, etc... They can't try to qualify for the USGA Mid-Amateur or any of the other state association run events. So they apply for reinstatement.
Backquak says:
They really need to up the limit. $750 is nothing when a set of irons cost $999 and a hotel is $75-200 a night, entry fees are $100 and up to play in a 3 day event. It would generate so much more interest in tournament play if the amateur players could actually win a little money. Make it $5000 and watch the amateur tour explode. IMO
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