After NCAA's NIL decision, 'golf ball' now back in USGA/R&A's court

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While college athletes across the country with now be able to make money off their name, image, and likeness, college golfers are in a holding pattern.

NCAA boards from all three divisions voted Wednesday to suspend most of their amateur rules and enact a temporary policy that will allow student-athletes to benefit monetarily from their name, image and likeness starting Thursday, when many state laws regarding NIL went into effect. The NCAA’s interim guidelines, which defer rule-making to the states and individual universities, will remain until official NCAA and/or federal legislation is passed.

However, college golfers must still abide by the Rules of Amateur Status set by golf’s governing bodies. Though the USGA and R&A back in February announced modernized rules that don’t figure to conflict with any state or school policies in regards to NIL, those new rules aren’t slated to go into effect until Jan. 1, 2022.

It’s official: NCAA votes to suspend most NIL rules starting July 1

So, what will college golfers do for six months?

If the USGA and R&A choose to keep their Jan. 1 start date, college golfers likely will have to wait to sign any type of NIL deal or risk forfeiting their amateur status. Even seniors who likely wouldn’t compete in an amateur event after the U.S. Amateur in August, remaining in the World Amateur Golf Ranking is still important, especially considering PGA Tour University’s ranking uses WAGR.

The USGA said Thursday in a statement to that is was aware of the NCAA’s NIL decision and was “assessing the interim policy” and would provide an update by July 6.

“While the NCAA’s announcement is not directly related to our own work to modernization the Rules of Amateur Status, we applaud the NCAA for making a positive step forward for collegiate athletics and note that their interim policy is closely aligned with where the Rules of Amateur Status will be come January 1, 2022,” the USGA statement read. “We are now in contact with NCAA staff to seek clarity on a number of items related to their interim policy and will provide an update to the entire golf community as to how NIL related activities will affect a student-athlete’s amateur status no later than Tuesday, July 6.”