International Golf Federation forms Olympic committee to attempt 2016 entry

By V. Krishnaswamy, IANS,

Southport (Britain) : In a bid to include golf in the 2016 Olympic programme, the International Golf Federation (IGF), comprising representatives of the world’s most influential bodies in the sport, has formed a new Olympic committee.

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The committee will make an effort to push golf at the highest level in the right manner. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) for its part has recognised IGF as the “voice of golf”.

Ty Votaw of the PGA Tour will serve as executive director of the new committee and will spearhead the campaign in the period till IOC’s meeting in October 2009, when it will decide on the inclusion of any new sports for 2016.

Peter Dawson, chief executive of The R&A and a member of the IGF olympic committee, said there are two vacant slots for new sports in 2016. The sports vying for those two spots are rugby sevens, squash, karate, roller sports, softball and baseball besides golf.

While he said that golf’s passage into the Olympic programme will not be easy, he also added that at a recent meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, the IOC indicated that a bid for golf’s inclusion in the games would be “warmly welcomed”.

Tim Finchem, tour commissioner of the US PGA, and George O’Grady, tour commissioner of the European Tour, also spoke about the support from the game’s top players for its inclusion in the Olympics.

The anti-doping policies adopted by the world’s golf tours have also put golf in a much stronger position to bid for Olympic status.

But among the things that still need to be resolved are the format and how to tackle the fact that the timing of the summer Olympics usually clashes with the US PGA Championship, the fourth and last major each season. However, the IGF has promised to deal with it depending on the venue chosen for the Games.

For the present, with the golf world having descended here in Southport for the 137th edition of the British Open, there is a lot of optimism vis-à-vis golf at the 2016 Olympics.