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College Golfers Set To Join NIL Bonanza

Rocket Mortgage Classic - Round Two
Fifth year senior Davis Thompson is among the Bulldog golfers who likely would have capitalized on NIL during his collegiate career.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Amidst all the discussion of college football players entering into endorsement and merchandising deals, it’s worth remembering that athletes in non-revenue sports can also now profit. Some of them will probably do so handsomely, such as LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne.

But interestingly collegiate golfers found themselves in a bit of a unique quandary. The USGA and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews have their own rules about what constitutes amateur status. As those organizations serve as the de facto international governing duopoly of golf, collegians who accepted endorsements or inducements risked losing the ability to participate in tournaments like the US and British Amateur, or to qualify as amateurs for the Masters and any number of other tournaments that provide for amateur entrants.

But now that too is changing. The USGA announced today that college golfers who adhere to the NCAA’s rules regarding NIL will maintain their amateur status, with a few specific provisos. College golfers will continue to be prohibited from profiting off in person golf instruction (though they can take part in video and written instruction).

The change bridges the gap between the July 1st effective date of NIL rules and an upcoming meeting of golf’s powers-that-be to update their amateurism rules.

The Georgia Bulldog golf team may stand to benefit from this as much as or more than some other programs. In addition to being a perennial power in college golf, Georgia also has a history of putting successful professional golfers on tour. Sponsors are likely to try to get in on the ground floor with tomorrow’s stars. The Peach State is also blessed with an abundance of Championship golf venues with whom deals could be struck.

NIL is changing the face of college athletics (and how it’s covered, but more on that later). I’m looking forward to seeing some of the golfin’ ‘Dawgs cash in along with everyone else.