USGA Makes Changes to Amateur Qualifying – What it Means for RI

Rhode Island’s biggest Amateur golf tournaments just got bigger. 

Starting in 2024, the winner of the Rhode Island Amateur and Women’s Amateur will get an exemption into the U.S. Amateur/Women’s Amateur, GolfNewsRI confirmed with Joe McDonald of the Rhode Island Golf Association. 

“Wow, that’s huge,” said 2022 RI Amateur runner-up Mike Hamilton in a text. 

“I saw that. I know it’s been in discussion for awhile, but never thought it would honestly happen. Exciting stuff,” replied three-time RI Amateur champ Bobby Leopold. 

The RI Am/Women’s Am will take on a whole new meeting in 2024. PHOTO: Joe Calabro

The same is true for the RI Junior Amateur and RI Girls Junior Amateur. 

Winners will get exemptions into the 2024 U.S. Junior Am and U.S. Girls Junior Am, respectively. 

This all comes after the USGA announced significant changes to its qualifying for its Amateur events.

The Changes 

According to the USGA, the U.S. Amateur will move from a one-stage, 36-hole qualifying format to two-stages with 45 18-hole local qualifying sites and 19 18-hole qualifying sites. 

Similar to the U.S. Open qualifiers. 

“The openness and aspirational nature of our championships is a defining characteristic of USGA championships. As the number of entries and qualifying sites have continued to increase on a yearly basis, we looked at ways to evolve our structure to ensure the long-term sustainability of qualifying without excessively burdening Allied Golf Associations (AGAs) and host clubs. These revisions will provide players with additional pathways to our championships through traditional qualifying, expanded exemption categories and performance in state, AGA, regional and national amateur championships,” said Brent Paladino, senior director, Championship Administration.

Other changes are as follows: 

  • Exemptions for state, AGA, regional and national amateur champions based on established criteria and historical WAGR event power rankings; 
  • Expansion of World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR) exemption category to top 100 ranked players (previously 50);  
  • Establishment of local exemptions, which include top finishers in USGA championships, state/AGA amateur championships and top 600 WAGR players. 

Changes to the other championships’ qualifying structures are outlined below: 

U.S. Women’s Amateur 

  • Modest reduction in qualifying sites through the establishment of geographic rotations; 
  • Exemptions for state, AGA, regional and national amateur champions based on established criteria and historical WAGR event power rankings;  
  • Expansion of WAGR exemption category to top 50 players (previously 25). 

U.S. Junior Amateur / U.S. Girls’ Junior 

  • Alignment of qualifying structure to encourage AGAs to conduct joint or concurrent qualifying;  
  • Exemptions for state, AGA, regional and national junior amateur champions based on established criteria and historical WAGR event power rankings;  
  • U.S. Junior Am expansion of WAGR age-filtered exemption category to top 100 (previously 85);  
  • U.S. Girls’ Junior expansion of WAGR age-filtered exemption category to top 50 (previously 40). 

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