Correction: On The Fringe-100912 story

Associated Press Modified: October 10, 2012 at 4:17 pm •  Published: October 10, 2012
Advertisement
;

In a story Oct. 9 about the World Amateur Team Championship, The Associated Press incorrectly quoted former USGA executive director David Fay as saying Vijay Singh "couldn't break 90" when he was 17 years old. Fay said Singh "couldn't break 80."

A corrected version of the story is below:

Tourney's wait list points to golf's global growth

Turkish delight: A waiting list at World Amateur indicates worldwide growth in golf

By DOUG FERGUSON

AP Golf Writer

The best measure of how much golf is growing around the world can be found in Turkey, of all places.

And not just because that's where the stars have come to play.

Never mind that Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are among eight elite players in an exhibition called the "World Golf Finals" that began Tuesday. It's mostly for show (four players wore shorts during the opening round of medal matches) and plenty of dough ($1.5 million for the winner).

No doubt, this can only help Turkey's bid to land the Olympics in 2020 and present itself as a golfing destination. And having the biggest names in golf, even for a few days, might inspire more interest in the game.

Far more significant, however, was the tournament that left town with little fanfare.

The World Amateur Team Championship wrapped up Sunday, with the United States winning for the first time since 2004. What made this significant was not who posed with the Eisenhower Trophy, rather who didn't get to play. For the first time in the tournament's 54-year history, there was an alternate list.

Television executive Neal Pilson once said the financial health of the PGA Tour was best measured by the waiting list of potential sponsors, and the same can be said of the World Team Amateur. It began in 1958 with 29 teams at St. Andrews. This year, there was a full field of 72 teams — from the U.S. to Ukraine, from Bermuda to Bulgaria — on the Sultan and Faldo courses at Antalya.

Among those on the waiting list, which was determined by when they signed up, were Saudi Arabia, Mauritius, Namibia and Lebanon.

"We had our biennial meeting of all member organizations and the accent and emphasis on the Olympics was very evident," said Peter Dawson, chief executive of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club who serves as president of the International Golf Federation. "The interest is there. It's amazing that in these countries they think of Olympic sports, instead of golf as its own sport. It's certainly starting to serve to grow the game."

It's too convenient to attribute the growth of the World Amateur Team to golf being approved as an Olympic sport for 2016. Golf was approved for the Olympics only three years ago, not nearly enough time for some countries to develop a reasonable infrastructure — golf courses, practice facilities, instruction, corporate involvement and, perhaps most important, a strong middle class.

The numbers have been trending in this direction for the last decade — 63 teams in 2002 at Malaysia, 70 teams in 2006 in South Africa. And it helps that Turkey is centrally located for some African and Asian nations.

But it illustrates how far golf has come — and how much more room there is to grow.