POSTED: November 18th 2008

Golf winning its image battle

Sergio Garcia: star member of golf's 'new wave' /
Sergio Garcia: star member of golf's 'new wave' /

LAURA WALDEN & KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

PONTE VEDRA Fla., Nov 18: Golf officials leading the bid for inclusion in the 2016 Olympics believe they are armed with the worldwide evidence to shatter the sport's old elitist image.

Seven sports go to Copenhagen next October competing to persuade the IOC to vote at least one or two of them into the 2016 Games. Golf believes the breadth and depth of its global appeal is a powerful calling card.

Golf's campaign is being co-ordinated by the International Golf Federation's Olympic Golf Committee which claims a constituency of 60m participants across all six continents.

Such statistics are quoted by Ty Votaw, executive director of the IGF, in support of its claim for a realistic recognition of golf's demographic appeal.

Responding to suggestions that golf retained an elitist image, he says: "Is that image a real one or a manifestation of past stereotypes? In the US 72pc of the 16,000 golf facilities are public facilities and it's certainly not a private sport in the UK.

"The number of participants on a worldwide basis and the number of countries we are in all speak to the depth of the game's worldwide growth.

"At our recent World Amateur Team Championships Sweden won the women's championship by almost the second-highest stroke difference ahead of Spain and then the United States while Scotland won the men's competition by nine strokes over the US.

"It's my understanding that 25 pc of the population of Canada play golf - that's more than hockey - and that golf is the fastest-growing sport in the Netherlands from the participation perspective. We're also seeing enormous growth in China, India and Eastern Europe so we feel very good about that story."

Keywords · 2016 Olympics · IOC · International Golf Federation · Olympic Golf Committee · Ty Votaw · executive director

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