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« Closing The Book On Merion '13... | Main | One Last Thought On Justin Rose's 18th Hole Shot At Merion »
Sunday
Jun232013

Unpaid 10-Second Ad Appearance Costs Amateur His Status

But he can receive equipment manufacturer balls and clubs to be counted at USGA events for advertised ball and club counts! 

What a wacky world, as Julie Williams reports on Scott Pieri losing his amateur status after he "made a 10-second appearance in a commercial for Golf Etc., a local club-fitting store owned by a friend, to deliver a brief testimonial."

And if you want to start your week off in peachy fashion, just read the contradictions in the Decisions on Amateur Status. Breathtaking.

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Reader Comments (25)

An unfortunate case where a well-know area amateur golfer was trying to help a buddy's business. The Rules on Amateurism are a little like the NCAA rules on recruiting - outdated. Golf companies give celebrities golf equipment and 'staff bags' to take advantage of their stardom but these guys still play in the big Pro AM as amateurs. High profile college players never pay for equipment as schools are permitted to let them play clubs of choice - and in a form of nurturing relations with these players in hopes they make it as a professional golfer - will benefit from the relationship in the form of promotion of their equipment choice. While this guy might have been in violation of a certain rule, the rules themselves are ambiguous. It does appear he has been down this path before and should know the rules however.
"For the good of the game!"
06.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterShady golf
So, 6-2/5 doesn't cover this because somehow he'll get invited into better tournaments like that PGATour stop in Indiana? Ridiculous.
06.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe O
Funny. If a player was to congratulate a club on being an outstanding test of golf....? Labels are not the same as testimony ...USGA. Professional/Amateur status is only a matter of time....USGA.
Bobby Jones was a professional.
06.24.2013 | Unregistered Commenterpanco
Hey, if Scott Pieri doesn't want to play by the rules of golf he's free to do as he pleases, just don't call it golf and don't be posting any scores or playing in any official competitions. The USGA and the R&A are the oracles of golf, who are we to question them or their decision making prowess?
06.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Eh, he didn't get paid, but he is also a born-again Amateur, who was "saved" 7 years ago, in his late 30's:

"As a professional, Pieri Monday qualified for three PGA Tour events in 1997: the Western Open, Buick Open and Greater Milwaukee Open. He won the 2003 Indiana PGA Professional Championship before seeking amateur reinstatement." The latter *should* have precluded his reinstatement, which basically allowed him to fight it out with other born-again Amateurs while beating up on whatever real amateurs exist in northern Indiana. In any case, he should have known better.

As for Jones after 1930, he never disputed his "non-amateur" status after he made the movies. When he asked formally for reinstatement much later, long after his illness prevented him from playing the Game, he said he answered the question, "Have you ever made money from golf? by writing "Hell, yes!" in the blank space.
06.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Didn't the USGA go after the amateurs at the Masters in the '80's for the free golf balls that appeared in their lockers? I seem to recall they all received letters and none lost their amateur status.

KLG, I agree. Seems like if you're a "real pro", playing out on tour for any period of time, your picking up valuable knowledge and experience unavailable to the normal amateur, and reinstatement should be out of the question. Wasn't there a big flair-up over the reinstatement of amateur status to Dillard Pruitt, a PGA tour winner.
06.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMashie
The USGA has no idea how to cope with life in the 21 century.
06.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterVwgolfer
@ Vwgolfer Exactly -- just like the NCAA is out of step with the 20th and 21st century. There seems to be rules of convenience for some. If you are not on the "in" list, then you are certainly not going to get any latitude. @ Mashie that is one rule I don't understand, a guy can go out on the tour and make a living, then decide I want to do something else and gets his Am Status back and beats up on the club golfers. If they are going to allow a once PGA Tour card-holder to regain Am status, they should at least set some criteria ....once they cross a certain threshold of career money won, then they can't go back. I can understand a guy beating his brains in on he mini-tours and after 5-10 years realizes he can't make it a living as a professional golfer, but once you get to a certain level there should be a 'point of no return'. Dillard has won the SC Amateur, multiple times I believe.
Mashie - the flair up is that Pruitt won the Canadian Am after reinstatement, beating a bona fide am.

I even consider NCAA players to be borderline Ams. The top players are golfers first.
06.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
Yep. I'm sure Dillard felt like a real he-man playing in the Canadian Amateur after his journeyman career on the PGAT. Jeebus. And then there is Gary Nicklaus, who has been reinstated twice. Jeebus, again. Anyway, nothing wrong with a MiniTour golfer getting his status back, but even that should require an extended interregnum. Being an amateur according to the USGA is kinda like being a virgin at certain southern institutions of higher learning (from the late, great Willie Morris IIRC): Unless you do it in the shower or horizontal on a bed, it doesn't count.
06.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
@KLG, I was going to bring up the virgin analogy, but being a newbee here I didn't have the nerve. I played college golf back in the day of head-to-head team matches. Played locally and regionally for 50 years and played in three different USGA Championships, Porter Cups, etc. But I never played the week-in, week-out 72 hole "grind", were you learn certain things on how to play. Worked all my life and played during vacations. Seems like if a "pro" at any level, grinds it out in stroke play events week in and week out for a period of time, they are experiencing a side of the game not available to the "true" amateur. And those experiences will assist them upon a reinstatement to amateur status. I know those on the summer amateur circuit now are coming close to that experience, but its still not the same. Hence, my view that once you play for a living, you're never an amateur again.
06.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMashie
I'll bite.

There are really only three amateur rules

1-dont play for prize money

2-dont give lessons

3-dont endorse stuff

2nd and 3rd include doing it for free, because while iam sure this guy never got a pile of money under the table, it would be real easy to break these rules and get paid in cash.

How hard is this to follow?
06.24.2013 | Unregistered Commentersmails
Reinstatement isn't the issue. That's a different issue. I'm all in favor revisitng the rules about reinstatement, but this about the USGA following it's own decisions. I played golf in college, I still play some competitive local and state events. If someone asked me on a driving range to hit their new magic club and give a videotaped testimonial with "Don, 1 Handicap", below my name, and I received no pay for it, then what's the violation?
06.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe O
Absolutely ridiculous decision from the USGA. Way to clarify the already clear as mud definition of an amateur. Great comment above on how you need to be "in the club" in terms of staying on the good side of whatever ruling body that sticks its nose in someones business for no reason other than hubris. IMO he didn't take money, no violation. Would the professional figure skaters association demand weekend skaters turn pro if they spoke for 10 seconds in favor of their local rink's new day care facilities? Same deal IMO.

This is a topic in which I have real life experience...except the other/bizarro way. I was accused of being an amateur after 3 yrs and finishing top5 on the local CZPGA Tour OOM a few times. Maybe he started haggling me since I was winning more than his son was year (I was crushing him)...but that is all "speculation" and innuendo of course.

The Gist: (Sorry, the background is important)

After moving here in 2007, and playing in about 30-35ish 1 to 3 day events on the local PGA pro circuit and even pre-qualifying for a Challenge Tour Event one time and finishing tied "Lo Pro with a Czech mailing address" after a hugely disappointing +1 total sent me packing. Overall, I won approx 25k Euros in that span. One day, some guy who shall remain nameless, called me, and demanded I return all monies I ever earned in "his PGA events"...including the 200Euros he paid me to do a day clinic in 2008...and I still had the receipt!! All I could think was "WTF has he been hitting the bottle or is he insane?"

I actually laughed at first before I realized he was serious. Advised him to look up the rule on amateur status as well as actually open the email I sent the local pga guy here that was complete with links on my status in Canada and all sorts of secure .pdf files. I was never a full blown ClassA, never said I was. But at the time, I had a college degree, a post secondary thing in IT technology mgmt plus golfwise, I had 20+ yrs experience working in the golf industry as both a playing pro, teaching assistant, head Junior-pro, backshop manager, shop staff, valet, waiter, bathroom cleaner, grass cutter, etc. Short of cooking I'm lucky to have touched on most aspects of a golf club and how it works. I also had references from all ClassA's north and south of the border to back my claims up. Did this blowhard even bother to pick up the phone. Heck no.

I have been a pro since 1996 and have NEVER filled out the amateur reinstatement forms. After hanging up my spikes/sticks I purposely played in only local "Open" events that allowed pros as well as at my home club whose tournaments were open 90% of the time to all members no matter their playing background or current status (And there were some former pro and current sticks who played there. Ahh local club golfing bliss! Those were some fun battles!!)

Anyway, my bohemian agitator here...amazingly, he is one of the top guys running the show on the pro side of things. Then I see one of the top junior stars in 2009...a cute junior girl with solid euro-wide results had her face plastered on bill boards across the country advertising memberships at a new golf course that opened that year...yet she stayed amateur for another 2 yrs with not one peep about her supposed "status" while she played at a "favored" discount.

The hypocrisy of amateur status is off the charts. I'm no angel in many respects, who is? I know the game pretty well and I simply teach the way I always wanted to be taught: "Fix the problem ball flight and the rest will follow". Been working super for the most part, except for the intermittent interference.

(sorry for the short story, but this issue has always hit a nerve with me ever since the mandatory duct tape on hat-logo rules many moons ago...along with the NCAA's repeated silliness in my well/miss spent youth. Phew..bedtime!!)
06.24.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
Hey Johnny,
Wasnt that cute junior girl Ms Spilkova by any chance? :)
06.24.2013 | Unregistered Commenterlevente
Sounds just like the assistants golf pro status that is a bad problem in the local PGA circuit. To play, you must be a A-8 or Class B. to many A-8 are teaching way more than 50% of the time but get there head pros to sign off and even tell the local office that the pro spends at least 50% of his total season in the shop even though there web page tell us that this Pearson is the main teacher at said course. Plus even there teaching philosophy is on the web page.
06.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark
Mark-play better or get gone. b-ing about playing better players is for the third flight net division.
06.24.2013 | Unregistered Commentersmails
smails: +1 x 2
06.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
@ O You bet you would! What about all the amateurs that are pictured in Golf Digest offering feedback on the magazine's "Hot Club List". Aren't they in essence giving testimony and promoting golf clubs in a national sports magazine? "Golf Digest" is part of the "in" crowd. College golf is essentially a mini-tour, especially at D-I level. The NCAA is out of touch, period, and they have no idea how to govern golf as part of college athletics. The USGA is as inbred as any sports association in existence.
@Dover Pro: Could be, but Mr. Pieri was asked for his endorsement because of his reputation as a well known, top-level golfer in his community. The Hot List evaluators in Golf Digest are generally just Joe Everyman, whatever their handicap, and that could make the difference.
06.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
The other day, I saw a young girl appearing on the Golf Channel endorsing the new AJGA pace of play changes. Is she a professional?
06.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad Ford
@smails - 2-dont give lessons

This summer, I have started teaching my 3 year daughter to play golf. Mostly, it involves learning to hold the correct end of the golf club, learning not to accidently hit daddy or the dog with it, and having fun in the backyard.

Did I accidently turn pro??
06.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad Ford
@ KY understand what you are saying about 'reputation'. But some are low and single digit players and perhaps have a local reputation at their home club. Would you think their 'endorsement' of certain clubs they tested might influence better or similar players to purchase a particular brand? Just saying, if you can't be in an advertisement, then you can't be in an advertisement. It can't be selective. Like I mentioned earlier, the USGA and the NCAA operate outside the common sense boundaries of the 21st century. I can remember the time when if a 15-year old golfer made the public statement that he "was going to turn professional" in the future, he lost his amateur status. Also, the USGA screwed Harvey Ward out of his amateur status and later reversed the decision. Harv's life went into a tailspin for several years as a result. He was forced to turn professional, a decision he did not want to make. The USGA is a long way from being lily white and pure on this matter.
Michael Phelps is being paid to endorse Ping, yet he can retain his am status. I really don't get how the am status rulings.
06.29.2013 | Unregistered Commenterh2o-boy

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