As London deals with a slew of security and other issues affecting this year’s Olympics, golf officials are already scrambling to determine how to avoid a logistical logjam involving several major tournaments four years hence.
As The Associated Press noted, Wimbledon started the ball rolling when the All England Club decided to schedule the tennis championship a week later beginning in 2015 to give players a three-week hiatus after the French Open. Meanwhile, the Royal & Ancients were looking at staging the British Open a week earlier in 2016 to accommodate the Ryder Cup and the Olympics. But that schedule change would pit the Open Championship against Wimbledon, which caused consternation within the U.K. governing body.
''The Wimbledon date change does impact on this with regard to when it's most sensible to play the Open that particular year, so we are going to have to go slightly back to the drawing board on this,'' R&A chief executive Peter Dawson told reporters on Monday. Dawson also directs Olympics golf as president of the International Golf Federation.
It gets even more complicated. The IGF promised the International Olympic Committee that it would plan no major event while the Olympics were taking place, but to schedule the games -- which will include golf as a competition for the first time in more than a century -- at its traditional time would set up a conflict with the PGA Championship. So the PGA of America, which runs the traditionally August major event, has said it could change the date of its tilt to the last week in July.
But then there’s the LPGA Tour’s Evian Masters in France, which will kick off this Thursday and become a fifth major starting next year -- not to mention the Women’s British Open, the Ryder Cup, and the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs.
As if determining when to fit the two weeks of Olympics golf (a week each for the men and women) into an already busy golf season weren’t enough, organizers were still trying to determine whether the format would be 72 holes of stroke play, match play, or some type of team contest. Dawson was inclined to go with the original, 72-hole stroke-play concept -- in large part because a change would require more red tape.
“We're going to have another look at that in the next few weeks and months, but golf's bid was based on individual competition..., 72‑hole stroke play,” he said. “In order for that to be changed, and I'm not sure that it ought to be changed, but if it were to be, we'd have to get agreement from the IOC sports department.”