Beth Ann Nichols writing for Golf Week:
Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior managing director of governance, told Golfweek on Thursday the committee poured over decades of cases and in every instance in which an amateur unknowingly broke the rule, received no compensation and took steps to rectify the situation, the player received only a warning.Li's defense was that she received no compensation and was under the impression that she was not appearing as a golfer. As you can see in this copy of the ad currently available on the WomensGolf.com YouTube page, the second part of that argument is a bit problematic.
Where this gets interesting is that a simple reading of the rules governing amateur status as published by the USGA makes this violation seem a bit obvious:
6-2. Promotion, Advertising and SalesAn 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.
Ultimately it comes down to this. Lucy Li was told by the USGA that they believed the ad violated her amateur status. That appearing in an ad that promotes a commercial product did bring her personal benefit even if she received no financial compensation. She reacted quickly to have the ad pulled. Apple complied. The USGA gave her their standard warning for first-time violations. We move forward.