Frank Hannigan, former USGA Director has written an intriguing essay for The Golf Observer on whether the USGA is in the process of abandoning its standards for amateur status. The worst of the USGA backsliding, he says, is permitting NCAA scholarship athletes to compete as amateurs. He correctly argues that these golfers are essentially paid to compete and practice nine months a year. What’s the difference between someone who makes $30,000 a year playing golf, or someone who is given a $30,000 scholarship to play golf?
Hannigan also warns that the USGA will allow a club to pay for an amateur to compete as its chosen champion. I can see all kinds of abuse coming down that route.
I think that the thing for the USGA to do is set up another level of competition like the mid-amateur. It wouild be a US Semi Pro or somesuch that would be open to scholarship athletes, designated club amateurs, etc. Then the US Amateur would be able to revert to its true roots.