Olympic theme at the The R&A Working for Golf Conference in Warsaw
Golf in the Olympics and the progress being made in the sport in Poland were among the themes of The R&A’s second Working for Golf conference in Warsaw.
Twenty-five delegates from 11 different countries - the Czech Republic, Russia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia, Armenia, Belarus, Slovenia, Moldova and Poland - were represented at the event.
The one-day conference at the Sofitel Victoria Hotel featured presentations about the sport’s return to the Olympics and The R&A’s development work around the world and its role in administering the Rules of the game. Further presentations covered the work of the Polish Golf Union in developing golf in the country, the role of the European Golf Association (EGA), the PGA’s of Europe and Special Olympics Poland.
The famous Open Championship trophy, the Claret Jug, was on display at the conference which followed on from a successful event in Prague in 2012.
Antony Scanlon, the Executive Director of the International Golf Federation, briefed delegates on the return of golf to the Olympics at Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and its inclusion in the Youth Olympic Games for the first time in Nanjing in 2014. Among the topics covered were developing the new course, to be designed by Gil Hanse, the format of the event – stroke play with 60 men and 60 women taking part, and the process of determining qualification. The opportunities for emerging golfing nations to have young players included in the Youth Olympic Games were also discussed.
Michael O’Brien, the National Team Coach at the Polish Golf Union, gave a presentation on the development of golf in the country. Poland currently has 17 18-hole courses and 10 nine-hole courses as well as a number of practice facilities. A measure of its progress came in last year’s World Amateur Team Championships in Turkey when the Polish men’s team finished in a tie for 17th in the Eisenhower Trophy ahead of many more established golfing nations. In May, a special Play Golf in Poland Day is being planned to encourage more people try golf for themselves.
The other speakers were Antti Peltoniemi, the President of the EGA, Tony Bennett, the Director of Education at the PGA’s of Europe, and Dr Mariusz Damentko, the Sports Director of Special Olympics Poland.
Duncan Weir, The R&A’s Executive Director – Working for Golf, said, “The conference was an excellent opportunity to bring together The R&A affiliates in this part of Europe and to discuss a range of topics and share ideas. We updated them on our Working for Golf programme and discussed ways in which we can support them as they develop in golf. It was also particularly useful to hear from Antony about golf in the Olympics and the Youth Olympic Games. We would like to thank the Polish Golf Union for their support in hosting the event.”