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August 13, 2009

Joe Steranka

Ty Votaw


JOE STERANKA: Well, good morning, and welcome to the PGA Championship media center for a very exciting announcement about golf and its future worldwide. It's my pleasure as a member of the board of directors for the World Golf Foundation to introduce Ty Votaw who has been on loan from the PGA TOUR as Executive Director for the International Golf Federation's Olympic bid and with some exciting news.
TY VOTAW: Joe, thank you very much. On behalf of the International Golf Federation and the members of the International Golf Federation Olympic Golf Committee, I'm very pleased to be able to announce that we just received word from the IOC Executive Board who are meeting in Berlin this afternoon that they are recommending that golf and rugby sevens be presented to the IOC session in October for a vote of the membership of the IOC to be included in the 2016 Olympic Games.
We are obviously thrilled with this announcement. It takes an important step closer for golf to return as an Olympic sport. The IOC membership has the final say in this determination of what gets added to the Olympic program. It does not have to follow the board's recommendations, but clearly if we did not receive the recommendation, the great likelihood would be that our campaign for inclusion in the Olympic Games would be over, and so this is a very important next step in the process.
We will have to receive word from the IOC and the IOC Sports Department as to whether or not -- what the voting procedures are. It's unclear at this time whether both rugby and golf will be presented as a block together for a vote or whether they would vote individually for each of the sports.
If it's individually, it would be two, one or none that could get in with the majority vote of the membership; if it's a block, then both will get in or both will be excluded if we don't receive the majority vote.
As I said, we are very excited about this news and this important step. We believe we have presented a very compelling case over the past 16 months for our sport to be included. We have had unprecedented unified support across the entire golfing world, both the amateur bodies represented by the 121 federation members of the IGF, as well as the 19 golf organizations and professional tours that make up the IGF professional golf committee, to say nothing of the top players from both the men's and women's games that have lent their support.
Throughout the process, we feel that we have conducted ourselves in a manner consistent with the way our sport is played. We congratulate rugby sevens for also being recommended. We send our condolences to the sports that were not recommended. And we look forward to October.
As I mentioned, the unprecedented support that we have received from all of the golfing world, it's appropriate that perhaps we can make this announcement here at the PGA Championship, one of the people who has been most supportive of this bid and our process has been the PGA of America, as a member of the IGF Olympic Golf Committee. And I would like to turn it over to Joe Steranka to say a few words on behalf of both the PGA of America and the IGF Olympic Golf Committee.
JOE STERANKA: Thank you, Ty, and great job. I know you spearheaded this on behalf of the entire industry. The PGA of America was one of 19 organizations worldwide that came together to support golf's Olympic bid.
If you think about it, we began this with a discussion with the World Golf Foundation board at the 2008 Masters, and it shows you just how quickly we can bring things together and talk about scheduling, format, all of the things that sometimes take much longer to come to fruition.
But when you have an opportunity to present the game of golf worldwide, and I've said that, there is no singular decision or singular program that can globalize the game of golf like a nod from the IOC to join the Olympic Games.
So we still have October 9 to look forward to. This is not complete yet. But we are very encouraged by today and we are proud of the support that we have received from every corner of our industry, beginning with the players themselves. So thank you and we'll open up for questions.

Q. Ty, you are being kind of cautionary, and rightfully so, because the decision won't be made until October. So what is there for you to do between now and then to ensure that this does happen?
TY VOTAW: Well, the decision today was made by a 15-member executive board to make the recommendation of the two sports.
We will now be presented to the 107-member general session of the IOC, and so a majority vote of those 107 members is required for us to be added to the program. We will be working between now and October 9 to talk about ways in which would be appropriate relative to communications with them so we can continue to tell the story we have told over the past 14 months and impress upon them why we think it's compelling for golf to be added to the Olympics.
What the details are of that are going to be developed over the next six, eight weeks.

Q. Even though it's preliminary, do you have any thoughts or contingency plans on how this would affect the PGA TOUR schedule?
TY VOTAW: Well, we have said all along that all of the major golf organizations who are represented on the IGF Olympic Golf Committee have indicated that they would work with their own schedules to accommodate a golf competition within the Olympic Games in 2016.
We won't know what the precise dates for the 2016 games are going to be until they award the city in October, which will be October 2nd that vote takes place. Each of the four cities have their own particular dates that they have proposed. And once we know who has won, we will have an ability at that time to have a better idea of what the impact will be on not only the PGA TOUR but the other golf organizations, the major championships in that window, as well as the other golf tours from around the world.

Q. Do you anticipate that any golf competition would be over in five or six days within the Olympic program?
TY VOTAW: We are proposing a 72-hole stroke-play competition for both the men and the women, which would be completed in that time frame, yes.

Q. Are you locked into the idea of that 72-hole stroke play for the future, and did you give much consideration to some other kind of formats that might distinguish it from a WGC event or a major?
TY VOTAW: We did consider a number of formats. But in the end we went with 72-hole stroke play based primarily on feedback from top players who felt it was the best and fairest way to identify a champion in a competition like an Olympic competition.
So your first question, are we locked in? Obviously we proposed that and we received the recommendation from the executive board, so we are pleased that that didn't disqualify us in some way. We have always said that we are flexible and we have always said that we would take IOC feedback along this process to tweak either the eligibility requirements to the format. But right now we feel very good about the 72-hole stroke play simply because it's something that's supported by the players.

Q. Along those lines, has there been a give and take with the executive board throughout this whole process? As part of the proposal, have they offered ideas back? Has there been a dialogue, I guess?
TY VOTAW: You mean the IGF Olympic Golf Committee?

Q. And the IOC executive board.
TY VOTAW: Well, the executive board of IOC has been a fairly formal process with presentations being given and their consideration of our formal bid which was embodied within a questionnaire, an 80-page detailed questionnaire. We received some questions from them that they responded to and they made their final determination today. It has not been an extensive dialogue, but it's been one where there's been a little bit of give and take with them. But they have not commented on the format or the eligibility requirements that we have set forth.

Q. Could you speak to ideally where this all will lead, what your vision is for the future because this has happened?
JOE STERANKA: Well, we made an announcement yesterday about a world alliance of the PGAs, the club professional organizations, and that was designed to really focus on the global standards of the profession and player development.
We think there has never been a better time to promote golf as a sport given the level of play on both the men's and the women's tours.
What an Olympic bid for golf would mean is that every developing golf territory would have state support from both the government side and the sporting infrastructure in those countries to promote our sport of golf. So in the mature markets such as the Americas and the U.K., and some countries in Asia, but not all, this won't have the great impact that it will have to jump start things in other developing golf communities around the globe.
So we are very excited about it. That's the vision is that if we have some 90 million people playing the game worldwide right now, that that's going to grow exponentially in the years to come.

Q. Have you given any thought yet to what the possible TV format would be, or has there been any dialogue with the IOC about how golf would be presented for television audiences?
TY VOTAW: No, we have not had those conversations yet. Obviously because of the Olympic schedule going over 2 1/2 weeks, there might very well be a scenario by which the golf competition from a scheduling perspective may not be your conventional Thursday to Sunday. It might be Wednesday to Saturday. It might be Tuesday to Friday. And so we have to work around what the schedules are for the other 27 sports on the Olympic program to determine that.
And then obviously, the television partner, at least in the United States, has not been determined for the 2016 games, so having those conversations would be a little bit premature right now, as well.
But obviously which competition, the men's or the women's competition comes first and which comes second, what days of the week, how they relate to one another in those days of the week, all of those things will have to be worked out over the next seven years, if we are fortunate enough to get the vote in October.

Q. I expect you'll tread on this rather lightly but I'm going to ask it anyhow. As someone who probably two years ago, this wasn't even on your radar screen, what's it been like getting a crash course in Olympic politics and just dealing with that whole world that you didn't probably know a whole lot about?
TY VOTAW: Well, I would say it's been a very gratifying experience for me personally because I've been able to see the way in which all of the golf organizations and the various interests in the game have come together for this purpose. I think when you look back on whether or not they were successful in October, the fact that the golf organizations around the world and the top players have been unified in one voice and have been supportive of this concept, is something that, because of all of the various disparate interests, you might not have always seen in our sport; and the fact that that's happened, the fact that we have come together on things like anti-doping, we have come together on messaging relative to golf's impact in economics and charity and what we have been able to do in terms of jobs and wages; all of those things are examples of all of us, the LPGA, PGA TOUR, USGA, everybody associated with this process, all have a common interest in making sure the game grows.
And this is one of those examples. So for me personally that's been really gratifying and it's been a real education process to go through these past 14, 15 months with the IOC and understanding what's important to them, understanding how they do things, and learning from that and taking away both the good and the bad from that process.

Q. Joe, if my math is correct, this would fall during a Ryder Cup year, and it's all speculative as to where this is going to be on the calendar, but it's likely that it could impact anticipated dates for The Ryder Cup. Is it fair to assume the PGA of America is very flexible about adapting whatever The Ryder Cup date would be to accommodate the Olympic movement? And for Ty, although unintended, there's almost a sense that the Olympics is a validation of this sport as legitimate; was there a risk getting into this, that if you're turned down, there's damage to the image of the game?
JOE STERANKA: Well, I'll start. It's a full schedule on every professional tour in the world today. It's part of the attraction, so to speak, of golf, that we are a popular, global game. It's actually 60 million people that play worldwide that we would be hoping to grow. And that was the starting point at Augusta in 2008 is where would we be on the schedule.
And depending on the four venues, it can impact anywhere from July through September.
So many things would have to be addressed with venues, with television partners, but we are all committed to do that because the prize for golf is that good.
TY VOTAW: With respect to your question about risk/reward, I think that what was at the front of everybody's mind in the leadership of the various golf organizations in deciding to go down this road was not a -- we didn't spend a lot of time on the risks. We saw enormous upside and enormous reward on whether or not we were successful and we gained or we based our decision ongoing forward with golf in the Olympics with much greater focus on what the rewards could be for the game, as opposed to what the risks are.
We obviously want to get the approval in October. But as I said, we are going to conduct ourselves in the way our sport is played, and if our best efforts don't allow that to happen, because we don't get a majority of the membership vote, we are going to move on and try to grow the game around the world in other ways.

Q. Provided that golf does get in the Olympics, are we looking at the creation then of a new governing body, a Golf USA body, and how would that come about? Would the tours and the other major organizations be a part of that?
TY VOTAW: That's something that we're going to have to work our way through. The USOC will have to recognize a national governing body for golf. Obviously the professional game being impacted the most by its participation in the Olympics would have to have representatives, the PGA of America, the PGA TOUR, the LPGA, along with the USGA as far as the USA golf governing body is concerned. And we will have to go down that road if we are successful in October to do that, yes.

Q. How much influence do you think having the most prominent athlete on the planet with Tiger might have played into the attraction of golf being included in the Olympics? And another, you've mentioned this meeting at Augusta; if you could just sort of give a little background and color, was it an informal thing? How did it take place? What sparked the dialogue there?
JOE STERANKA: As I've said, there is no singular change or program such as golf being added to the Olympics that could grow the game worldwide. So it was put on the table and discussed very thoroughly. The challenges to make an Olympic bid possible were quickly identified. Each of us had our to-dos and we came back in very short order and I believe had a group that went to Lausanne in May, led by Tim Finchem and Carolyn Bivens, Peter Dawson, and then formally began the bid process later on in the summer.
So it worked as well as anything I've seen in 21 years in the golf industry. Ty mentioned a couple of the other things, but again, the benefit for golf, assuming that we get the final vote on October 9, would be extraordinary.
TY VOTAW: You can't overstate that, just like you can't overstate the support of the No. 1 player in the women's game, Lorena Ochoa, lending her support. Really, Tiger saying what he said the other day and being involved in the process the way he has had in our films and our letter-writing campaign and our marketing brochures was very important. But the support of all of the top players, because this is not a U.S.-driven issue. Lorena Ochoa carries an enormous amount of weight in her own country; Annika Sorenstam in Sweden. Ernie Els in South Africa. Vijay Singh, there's a vote from Fiji on the IOC board.
So all of those interests and expressions of support from those various players to their IOC members back in their home countries is critical. But certainly having the No. 1 players in both the men's and the women's game say that they are supportive and would play in 2016, you can't overstate the importance of that.
JOE STERANKA: Thank you very much and we'll be available for questions.

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