Faldo Series to develop South American golf ahead of Olympics return
Golf legend Sir Nick Faldo has revealed plans to help develop golf in South America ahead of the sport’s return to the Olympics at Rio 2016.
The six-time Major winner – who admitted he would have “absolutely loved” to compete for a gold medal – is currently expanding his Faldo Series throughout the host continent for golf’s return to the Olympic programme after an absence of 112 years.
Golf is still very much a minority sport throughout much of the continent, but with the Rio Olympics less than five years away work is under way to increase participation.
Already established in Europe and Asia, the Faldo Series recently announced that its South America Championship, which began in 2008, will remain in Brazil until at least 2016.
Sir Nick explained: "Now is the time to focus on golf development in South America. With the support of The R&A, we have brought the Faldo Series to South America and the South America Championship to Brazil.
“Our expectation is that the Series will contribute at developmental levels to Brazil's now historic connection to the sport. We are committed to maximising Brazil's rightful place leading up to and beyond golf's return to Rio 2016."
With backing from the Brazilian Golf Confederation (CBG) it is hoped participation will increase even further in the coming years.
He added: “We are trying to expand. We have 17 events in 13 countries. For example, China has five events to get to their grand final, so that is what I hope will happen.
“We have doubled in size. We reach 5,000 golfers and with our Faldo South America Series we have nearly gone global. We want to keep expanding. The more help we can get the bigger we can make it.”
Sir Nick – who won the Open Championship in 1987, 90 and 92 – has taken an active interest since it was announced that golf would return to the Olympic programme. In August, he submitted plans to the International Golf Federation (IGF) for the proposed Olympic course that would see each of the 18 holes designed by a different Major winner in a project overseen by golf architect Tom Fazio.
But it is as a player that Sir Nick would have liked to have made his mark, he explained: “I think the Olympics is a fabulous event. I would absolutely have loved the opportunity to go and win a gold medal, wow, that would have been something special.
“I hope it’s successful, I really do, because I think it is such a special event and I’m sure in that vein it can’t do any harm.
“Golf is pretty well established, we’re actually older than the modern day Olympics. The exposure it will get can’t do us any harm at all.”