Predicting the future: Will Olympics grow golf?


The mantra repeated in golf circles is that the sport's first Olympic appearance in a century in 2016 will be a boon for the sport around the world.

Scott Ferrell, president of Gary Player Design, believes that is not a foregone conclusion.

'That's a hard question. There's so much detail behind how this is going to play out - from how it's broadcasted, to the format,' he said in a telephone interview last week.

'I think it opens up the growth of the game, potentially, and that leads to more development.'

The sport has to put on a good show to appeal to a massive, worldwide audience. The tournament also has to appeal to the International Olympic Committee, which will determine golf's fate in the games beyond 2020 almost immediately after the conclusion in Rio.

'I think for it to really have a meaningful impact long-term, it's going to need more than just two Olympics,' he said.

Most critical, Ferrell said, is ensuring the profile of the Olympic field represents more than the microcosm of golf's most winning nations.

'Is it a true international competition? Or is Tiger Woods going to win every time? I think it's important that they have a true international representation in the field, which I believe they will,' he said. 'It has to be broader than traditional golfing countries. You can't just go into it every four years and have someone from the traditional powerhouses to win.'

Despite a healthy degree of precaution, Ferrell remains optimistic about the impact of the Olympic stage on golf.

'I really believe it is going to spur interest. It's the largest sporting event in the world,' he said. 'How much, it's just so difficult to predict. But I think everyone believes it will have a positive impact.'