I used to be against golf in the Olympics. The Games, I felt,
should be a showcase for sports such as gymnastics and track.
When the International Olympic Committee admitted tennis in
1988, I changed my mind, and since then I've worked on behalf of
the World Amateur Golf Council to get golf back into the Summer
Golf was played in the 1900 and '04 Olympics but was dropped in
1908 in part because Olympic authorities believed the games
should be limited to track and field events. Last month the WAGC
submitted a proposal to get golf back into the Games in 2008, and
the IOC will consider our plan at its meeting in Moscow in July.
I don't think any other sport has more worldwide appeal (60
million golfers in 132 countries) and isn't in the Olympics. Golf
doesn't have a doping problem and is scored objectively. A venue
wouldn't have to be built because all five potential host
cities--Beijing, Istanbul, Osaka, Paris and Toronto--have top-notch
courses nearby. Also, for the first time in the sport's 500-year
history, the most recognizable athlete on the planet is a golfer.
The IOC is concerned about the mushrooming number of athletes, so
Olympic golf would be limited to 50 men and 50 women in 72-hole
stroke-play events with medals for individuals, but not teams.
Countries would be limited to a maximum of two men and two women,
based on their respective world rankings. A handful of wild-card
entries, some of whom could be amateurs, would go to countries
without a golf tradition.
My only concern is whether the best professionals will compete. I
think Olympic golf will be like Olympic tennis. Lindsay Davenport
and Venus Williams played in Sydney, but Andre Agassi and Pete
Sampras didn't. Obviously, that leads to the big question: Will
Tiger Woods participate? I can't answer that, but just think, if
Tiger were to win a gold medal, he'd finally be one up on Jack
David Fay has been executive director of the USGA since 1989.