18 Questions With â€¦ Ty
The head of the IGF's Olympic Golf Committee details
the format of play envisioned for 2016, when the events
would take place, and the top players' views on golf's
April 16, 2009
As part of the International Golf Federation's continuing
efforts to demonstrate worldwide solidarity behind golf's bid
to become an Olympic sport in 2016, 18 of the game's top
players recently sent a customized brochure detailing the
bid, along with a personal letter reflecting their support,
International Olympic Committee members from their
The International Golf Federation made
its formal bid last month
for golf to become one of two new sports in the 2016 Olympic
Games. That represented the second major step in a process
that will culminate with a final vote on the matter by the
International Olympic Committee in October. Ty Votaw, the PGA
Tour executive who heads up the IGF's Olympic Golf Committee,
recently outlined the progress his group has made and
discussed what lies ahead with freelance writer John
USGA: What is the status of the actual bid?
The first step was
the presentation we made in November
to the IOC Programme Commission in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Peter Dawson of the R&A and I addressed the 16-member
commission for about 30 minutes, and then we had a 20-minute
Q&A. We brought along the trophy won by George Lyon, a
Canadian, the last time golf was an Olympic sport, in 1904.
And we showed the group three different short films
demonstrating top player support for the effort.
The second step in the process was to submit the formal bid,
which we did on Feb. 15. The Programme Commission is
currently reviewing that bid and is in the process of
compiling a summary report that it is supposed to give to us
within 45 days. We can then offer comments and
What happens after that?
We turn in those comments and clarifications to the Programme
Commission, and it uses them as well as information on the
other six sports vying to be selected for 2016 to create a
series of reports, which it will send to the IOC Executive
Board. We are scheduled to go back to Lausanne in June to
make a presentation to that group. And they make their final
decision on the matter in October, at an IOC session in
What did the bid consist of?
It was a detailed questionnaire with a total of 80 queries.
What did the IOC want to know?
They were curious as to the competition format we would use.
They wanted to know how golf appealed to the general public,
to the youth of the world, to the media and television, and,
of course, to sponsors. They asked us to lay out the cases
for golf's inclusion in the Games in a variety of ways.
What is the format going to be?
We are proposing 72-hole, individual stroke play for both men
In talking to the top players, they felt it presents the best
and most equitable way to identify a champion.
How would the tournaments play out during the Games?
Each competition would be over four days. We are looking at a
situation in which the men play for four days during one of
the weeks of the Olympics and the women four days in another
What time of year would those events take place?
End of July or the first couple of weeks of August.
What sort of disruption would there be on the regular
professional tour schedules?
The IGF is committed to working around the schedule for the
majors. Certainly, there will be some disruption, but we hope
to keep that to a minimum.
How have the top players supported the bid?
Very well. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are on those videos
we presented to the Programme Commission, and so are Vijay
Singh, Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, Lorena Ochoa, Annika
Sorenstam, Mike Weir and K.J. Choi. We have a very good
cross-section from the men's and women's game, and it not
only demonstrates broad-based support of the bid but also the
universality of the game, which is important to the IOC.
How important is that support?
Very important, as the IOC says that for a sport to be added
to the Olympics, there has to be a guarantee that the top
players in the world would play.
Does that mean that all the players, should golf make it
into the Olympics, would be professionals?
The fact is, the top players in the game clearly are the
professional players, and our stance right now is that
eligibility would come from the official world rankings. Our
thinking at this point is that the top 15 men and women
players on that list are in, no matter what country they come
from. After that, a country may have no more than two
players. We expect to have a field of 60 players for both men
How many countries do you expect to be represented?
Based on the current configurations of world rankings, 30
countries on the men's side would be represented, and 34 on
What is Tiger's view of the bid?
He feels that golf would be good for the Olympics, and that
the Olympics would be good for golf. The tricky part in all
of this is no one knows for sure who the top players will be
in 2016. After all, we are talking about seven years down the
road. Will Tiger be there? Will Phil Mickelson, who will be
46 years old at that point? Vijay says he would love to
represent Fiji. But he will be 53 in 2016.
Have you gotten any feedback from the IOC on your bid, and
a sense of how it is being received?
No polling data exists. We have no exit surveys. So, we
really don't know. But we feel we are doing the best we
can with our bid, and we cannot worry too much about the
competition. We cannot control our opponents, and if we shoot
62, and they shoot 61 to beat us, well, that's the way it is.
We think we have made a very good case, and I believe the IOC
has been impressed by our bid. But it is probably impressed
by the others as well.
[Editor's note: Karate, rugby sevens, roller sports and
squash are vying with golf to be one of the two new sports
selected, as are softball and baseball, both of which were
dropped after Beijing and will not be part of the 2012 Games
Is there going to be any sort of cut among the seven
sports angling for the two spots in 2016?
During its meetings in Berlin in August, the IOC Executive
Board will make a recommendation as to the two sports the IOC
Session in October in Copenhagen will vote on. While it is
better to be one of the two recommended sports, there is no
assurance that the IOC membership will accept the
recommendation of the IOC Executive Board.
Are there other things you are doing outside of these
formal presentations to advance your goal of golf in the
We put together a marketing brochure that we are asking the
top players in the game today to send to IOC members from
their country. Annika Sorenstam and Jack Nicklaus have also
to be Global Ambassadors
for our bid. And we are talking with IOC members when it is
appropriate. We are not supposed to be entertaining IOC
members. But if we are at places under IOC auspices, it is
certainly fine to be talking to IOC members. And we are doing
What has been the level of support within the golf
There are 119 member countries represented in the IGF, and
the seven members of the
IGF Olympic Golf Committee
are made up of representatives of the leading men's and
women's tours as well as the four majors in men's golf. We
have also formed the IGF Professional Golf Advisory
Committee, which is made up of all the leading tours in the
men's and women's games, the leading PGAs from around the
world and other golf bodies like the International Golf
Association. I don't know that there has ever been a
situation or an issue in golf that has engendered as much
support among top players and organizations in the game. We
are very pleased with the level of support, and the level of
JohnSteinbrederis a freelance writer whose work has previously appeared