FORT WAYNE – Scott Pieri received shocking news Tuesday morning.
A day after he shot an even-par 72 in the Indiana Amateur Championship at South Bend Country Club, Pieri was informed by the United States Golf Association that he was no longer considered an amateur.
I was caught off guard, said Pieri, 45. I’m ineligible for amateur golf.
The five-time Men’s City Golf Tournament champion lost his amateur status because he did a 10-second testimonial in a commercial for Golf Etc., a Fort Wayne golf retail store. Pieri said the commercial has aired for the last couple of months but has stopped airing at his request.
Pieri said he checked the USGA rule about appearing in a commercial as an amateur and believed he was allowed to be in it because he was not paid. He also turned over the information about his participation in the commercial to the Fort Wayne Golf Association then the Indiana Golf Association, which then forwarded the information to the USGA at Pieri’s request.
The USGA told Pieri he violated Rule 6-2 about amateur status, which states: An amateur golfer of golf skill or reputation must not use that skill or reputation to obtain payment, compensation, personal benefit or any financial gain, directly or indirectly, for (i) promoting, advertising or selling anything, or (ii) allowing his name or likeness to be used by a third party for the promotion, advertisement or sale of anything.
The ruling that they gave me is that I personally benefited from the commercial, because I raised my profile or my image because of the commercial being public, Pieri said. Because of that, they are saying I could be invited to more golf tournaments because of that.
When (Bernie Loehr, USGA director of amateur status) told me that, I said: You got to be kidding me. you’re giving me a ruling on what could happen? You are not even ruling on what did happen.’ I think it is a bit of a bogus ruling myself, but that is the ruling they’re going to stand by. And because of that, I told them I would accept their decision.
Pieri said he could reapply for amateur status, a process that could possibly take a year or longer, or decide to pursue a professional career.
Pieri will not be able to compete in any FWGA events, including the city tournament, which he has won the last three years, and he stepped down from the FWGA board of directors.
I don’t blame anybody in this but myself, Pieri said. Ultimately, it is my responsibility to understand what the rules are, especially as it pertains to my amateur status. I just misinterpreted, really, and just put myself in a bad position.
It is no one’s fault but mine, and I take full responsibility for it.