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Group Seeks to Have Golf Added to Olympics
The International Golf Federation (IGF), recognized 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. Organizations represented on the committee are the R&A, PGA European Tour, USGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour, LPGA and Augusta National Golf Club.
During a press conference at Royal Birkdale Golf Club during The Open Championship, the IGF introduced PGA Tour executive Ty Votaw as the person who will coordinate the Olympic golf movement on behalf of the IGF's Olympic Golf Committee and the other golf organizations. Votaw will serve in a newly created position as executive director of the IGF Olympic Golf Committee and will work closely with the groups 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 organizations 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, Chief Executive of the R&A. "Having someone of Ty's reputation and expertise serve in this capacity certainly enhances our efforts to add golf as an Olympic sport."
"There is a significant amount of work to be done between now and next October, when the IOC makes its decision," PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said. "As the PGA Tour considers this a very important initiative on behalf of the international golf community, we are pleased to provide Ty and the majority of his time to coordinate this effort."
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, Mo. At that time, men's individual and team titles were contested among 77 golfers representing just two nations - 74 from the U.S. 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.
"Without question, golf's international popularity has grown significantly over the past couple of decades and the sport continues to expand and develop in new countries," Votaw said. "So the time is right to champion golf as an Olympic sport. It's wonderful that this has become such a united effort among golf's leading organizations. I'm excited about this opportunity and very much look forward to the challenge and, hopefully, reward of bringing golf back to the Olympics."
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 determined at the 121st IOC session, scheduled for October 2, 2009, in Copenhagen. The four finalists are Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, and Tokyo.