The International Golf Federation (IGF), recognised as the representative body for golf by the International Olympic Committee, has announced the creation of an Olympic Golf Committee to drive its effort for the sport’s inclusion in the 2016 Games. Organisations that will be represented on the committee are The R&A, PGA European Tour, USGA, PGA of America, PGA TOUR, LPGA and Augusta National Golf Club.
Announcing the decision at Royal Birkdale Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A, explained, “A recent poll of IGF members was conducted about support for golf in the Olympics, and over 90 percent of the respondents either strongly supported or supported golf’s inclusion in the games.
“Reasons cited were increased exposure for golf, more government support, increased funding both from government and from Olympic participation, and so on. And I have no doubt that Olympic golf is comfortably the biggest grow-the-game opportunity that exists to help us bring golf to so many countries where it’s just starting up.”
PGA TOUR executive Ty Votaw will coordinate the Olympic golf movement on behalf of the IGF’s Olympic Golf Committee and other golf organisations around the world. Votaw will serve in a newly created position as executive director, IGF Olympic Golf Committee and will work closely with the organisations involved.
Votaw, who will continue as PGA TOUR executive vice president of communications and international affairs, will lead the Olympic effort until October 2009, when the International Olympic Committee votes on which, if any, sports to add.
“Considering his vast experience in dealing with international golf organisations and issues as a member of the PGA TOUR executive staff and as a former commissioner of the LPGA, Ty is uniquely qualified to lead this effort on behalf of the International Golf Federation,” said Peter Dawson. “Having someone of Ty’s reputation and expertise serve in this capacity certainly enhances our efforts to add golf as an Olympic sport.”
Golf is one of seven sports under consideration, along with baseball, karate, roller sports, rugby sevens, softball and squash. The IOC will vote in October 2009 on whether to add no more than two of these sports.
Golf is bidding to become an Olympic sport for the first time since 1904, when it was contested in St. Louis, USA. At that time, men’s individual and team titles were contested among 77 golfers representing just two nations – 74 from the United States and three from Canada. Today, 20 countries are represented among the 100 top male players in the world, based on the Official World Golf Ranking, while 16 countries are represented among the top 100 women, according to the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.
In 2016, if golf is included in the Games, there will be events for both men and women and the players will be professionals. “It’s been made very clear to us by the International Olympic Committee that if golf is to be in the Olympics then it has to be for the top players in the world,” said Peter Dawson. “Golf will not get into the Olympics if it’s to be for amateurs. That’s been made clear to us many times.”
The IGF was founded in 1958 as the World Amateur Golf Council to encourage the international development of the game. It took its current name in 2003 and today includes the national governing bodies of golf from more than 110 countries.
The host city for the 2016 Games will be selected from the short list of four finalists: Chicago, USA; Madrid, Spain; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Tokyo, Japan.
International Golf Federation www.internationalgolffederation.org