POSTED: November 27th 2008

Golf playing the youth card

Sergio Garcia: international inspiration /
Sergio Garcia: international inspiration /

KEIR RADNEDGE & LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

PONTE VEDRA Fla.: Worldwide youth development is one of the most powerful weapons with which golf hopes to impress the IOC in its bid for access to the 2016 Olympic Games.

The International Golf Federation is proud of the achievements of its 116 federations despite the fact that they lack the national financial support available to many Olympic sports - precisely because they have not participated in the Games since 1904.

Golf staged its annual World Amateur Team Championships in October in Adelaide, Australia. However, the decentralised structure of golf at global level means its youth work lacks the international visibility available to many other sports - though players such as Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia are worldwide inspirations.

"This is a sport with junior competitions throughout the world every week in every country," says Ty Votaw, executive director of the International Golf Federation's Olympic Committee.

Urban and rural message

"In the US, the largest golf market, the First Tee programme has introduced the game of golf to over a million kids in the past 10 years. Its entire genesis is to bring golf to those children who wouldn't otherwise be exposed to the game both on an urban and a rural basis.

"We have over 250 chapters of the First Tee and we're also in five other countries around the world. But there isn't an official IGF programme because each country has its own youth development programme.

"Golf has a different structure so it's not led from the IGF level but at local, national level.

"There are junior golf programmes all across the world and that's one of the aspects of our universality that we think is one of golf's positives. All the 116 federations within the IGF have junior development programmes and the best thing to help them develop still further would be a golf presence at the Olympics.

"Golf in the Olympics would not necessarily grow golf in the US but will grow golf around the world."

Keywords · golf · 2016 Olympic Games · International Golf Federation · World Amateur Team Championships · Ty Votaw · executive director · International Golf Federation's Olympic Committee · First Tee

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