USGA Statement Regarding Amateur Status of Highly Ranked Golfer Lucy Li
February 14, 2019
The USGA Amateur Status Committee has ruled that amateur golfer Lucy Li breached Rule 6-2 of the Rules of Amateur Status by participating in an Apple Watch “Close Your Rings” advertisement campaign. Following that determination, the Committee carefully reviewed the facts and circumstances surrounding the breach in order to determine the appropriate penalty for Ms. Li.
As a result of that effort, the USGA has issued Ms. Li a one-time warning. She will retain her Amateur Status.
Late last year, Ms. Li was engaged by a casting agent for an acting assignment to promote the Apple Watch. At that time, the nature of her participation was not defined and she was given no indication that she would appear as a golfer. While on this assignment, Ms. Li was filmed engaging in a variety of recreational activities, one of which was golf. The casting agent informed her that her appearance in any final advertisement was not guaranteed, nor did they know how she would be featured.
Ms. Li first became aware of the final content of the advertisement, which featured her as a golfer, on Jan. 2. She was notified by the USGA of a pending review into her Amateur Status on Jan. 3. At that time, Apple immediately took down the advertisement in all its forms. On Jan. 11, USGA notified Ms. Li she had breached the Rules of Amateur Status.
Since that time, the USGA has had several discussions with both Apple and the Li family and has confirmed that Ms. Li has neither received, nor will receive in the future, any monetary or non-monetary (e.g., products) compensation for her appearance in the advertisement. Ms. Li has affirmed to the USGA that at the time she agreed to participate in the advertisement she did not know she was breaching the Rules of Amateur Status, and at no time did she intend to forfeit her Amateur Status.
In determining the level of penalty, the Committee considered all these facts and circumstances, including a recognition that Ms. Li is a minor and that this was her first breach of the rules. This ruling is consistent with the Committee’s general practice of issuing a warning to amateurs who unknowingly breach Rule 6-2 for the first time and take appropriate remedial measures. The USGA has communicated this ruling to Ms. Li and this matter is now closed.
We encourage amateur golfers who are unsure about taking a proposed action to engage with their governing body early in the process, in an effort to protect their Amateur Status.