The word 'amateur' never was a sound choice as a definition of those people who performed deeds without remuneration. Not in sport, anyway.
As a noun amateur, as in layman, is OK. As an adjective, as in amateurish, it is damned offensive. So let's remove it from the lexicon. It doesn't really mean anything any more.
The last amateur sport - sport with any sort of profile, that is - was rugby football and that disappeared into the commercial maw ten years ago. But there's still amateur golf, some insist.
Is there? Really? Are men who play and practise seven days a week amateurs?
Are those who work five days a week, who play heavily subsidised competitive golf at the weekend amateurs?
I'm an amateur and so are my mates but I'm talking about good players, those who make it into representative golf, who get to play for their counties or their countries.
Golf is one long freebie for most of them. They get free coaching, free golf, free travel, free clothing, free equipment and free accommodation. Amateurs? Pull the other
None of this, I hasten to add, causes me to lose any sleep. I'm delighted that we nurture our young players so carefully that they can go out as often as they do and win, or nearly win, the Walker Cup.
What does make me wince now and then, however, is an awareness of the vast variety of shades of amateurism that exist.
Amateur is suppose to be an absolute. We should chuckle. For when we stop kicking the word to pieces, we can pause and note a recent decree from the United States Golf Association to the effect that any "amateur" who plays in a pro-am which offers lucrative prizes - say a top-ofthe-range Cadillac for a hole in one - can keep his winnings regardless of the value.
At the same time, the R&A are sending out an edict that when it comes to winning things, the non-professionals under their jurisdiction have to say "no thank you" if any prize exceeds £500. Or lose their amateur status.
You may recall a famous case a few years ago when Derek Lawrenson, a former golf correspondent of this newspaper, holed in one at a prestigious pro-am in Surrey and won a breathlessly expensive Italian motor car.
Refuse to accept it, it said in the rules. Or you will cease to be an amateur. And we all fell about, especially Lawrenson at this judgment: that the reward for one fluke golf shot was going to make him a professional.
He duly sold the car for a sum that set him up for a comfortable life and the fact that he had, officially, lost his status didn't matter a jot.
Some clubs might have banned him from medal competitions but the one he was a member of didn't; he played on, quite often with me. Does that make me a professional by association?
If there is such a thing as serious farce, this was it. But there is a side to all this that does concern some serious people.
It concerns Andrew Boyd, secretary of the Worcestershire Union, because of the apparent laxity with which the rules are applied. Worcestershire, he points out, are very strict when it comes to pro-am competitions. If the rules say £500, then any club who offer a penny more than that to an amateur will be disaffiliated from the Union.
"We have a new code," he said. "And we should all stick to it - or not. We should be making a concerted effort to find uniformity."
Boyd's point is that, by applying the rules, Worcestershire could be putting themselves at a commercial disadvantage.
"A big sponsor could come along, offer, say, an expensive motor car for a hole in one, find that our clubs cannot accommodate him and then he would go off to another county.
"We don't want to see media frenzies over issues like this; that would be bad for golf and that's why I believe we should all be united in our views." Boyd is writing to all the county secretaries in the Midlands to that effect.
Now to another variation in the definition of the word amateur. The R&A are to allow anyone, "amateurs" included, to accept payment for coaching.