Ladies European Tour Chief Executive Officer Ivan Khodabahksh and Director of Development and Membership Mike Round joined delegates from across Europe at Wentworth Club for a European Golf Federations’ Conference exploring some of the challenges and key opportunities for golf particularly through the reintroduction of golf into the Olympics.
The Ladies European Tour joined representatives from 16 European Federations, the European Tour, the International Golf Federation (IGF), The R&A, European Golf Association and PGAs of Europe for a series of key note presentations and discussions focused on the future of the game at both the professional and amateur level.
The discussion kicked off with a session on ‘Golf in the Olympics’ with European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady, who instigated the conference ahead of his transition to becoming President of International Relations when he steps down as Chief Executive in the summer, being joined on the panel by Ivan Khodabahksh, Peter Dawson, Chief Executive The R&A and President of the IGF, Antony Scanlon, Executive Director, IGF and David Garland, The European Tour’s Director of Tour Operations, as they presented an overview of the Olympic effect.
The “Challenges Facing Europe” session explored areas such as improving the image of the game, how venues are reacting to a changing leisure environment and how the Tour can strengthen the links between the amateur and professional game with Mark Lichtenhein, The European Tour’s Head of TV, Digital Media and Technology, David MacLaren, Director of European Tour Properties, and Alain de Soultrait, Director of European Challenge Tour, leading the debate.
Some case studies centred around golf participation, presented by Christophe Muniesa, General Secretary, French Golf Federation, Marcus Neumann, Member of the Board – Sports, German Golf Federation, Lubos Klikar, Sport Director, Czech Republic Golf Federation and Morten Backhausen, Director, Danish Golf Federation, provided plenty of valuable insights into initiatives such as the short courses in France, trends in ‘pay-and-play’ and opportunities to attract more juniors into the game.
Later in the day, ‘Golf Europe was launched – a group of European golf stakeholders collaborating to grow golf and enhance the sport’s contribution to European society – which saw Mike Round on stage with representatives from The R&A, EGA, European Tour and PGA’s of Europe. This gave him the opportunity to highlight the need to increase the visibility of women’s golf, the need for golf to better understand women’s motivations and needs and how important it is to encourage more women into positions of influence.
George O’Grady said: “I would like to thank all the Presidents of Federations and other stakeholders for their time and making the effort inn coming here to Wentworth for what I am sure all will agree was a very useful and enjoyable experience. The timing of this conference heralds golf’s return to the Olympics, a once in a lifetime opportunity for our game and today highlighted many ways we can work together to collectively drive golf forward.