Olympics return good news for golf
Despite a degree of opposition among the IOC delegates and a liberal sprinkling of cynicism and scepticism from inside and outside the game, golf is once again an Olympic sport and will be part of the sporting carnival in Rio in 2016.
Make no mistake, this is ultimately a business decision by the IOC who, despite 27 votes against inclusion, are looking for a lucrative slice of golf's commercial and television portfolio, as well as its ever expanding appeal in the Far East.
But for golf, the benefits will also run deep, with membership of the Olympic family offering potentially significant influence on how the game is run and perceived.
Already, the campaign for Olympic status has brought together disparate governing bodies that have put aside their own agendas to act as one under the International Golf Federation umbrella.
Golf needs international leadership to bring tours together so they don't compete against each other, but instead work together to produce schedules that work for players and fans alike.
Yes, it's a pipedream, but one worth putting on the IGF's agenda, given that the organisation has acquired more teeth with its successful Olympic bid.
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This move to attach the famous five rings to the game was also at the heart of the introduction of drug testing at the top of the game. Now golf is proving itself to be clean and is living by the standards of other sports.
The Royal and Ancient's Peter Dawson and PGA Tour's Ty Votaw should be applauded for spearheading the campaign, though it is hard to fathom why they failed to ensure representation at the African Olympic Congress in Nigeria earlier this year.
Today's vote was by no means a shoo-in despite the executive recommendation golf and rugby sevens received in August. Delegates still needed to be convinced and especially by golf after the African no-show and because of its reputation for elitism.
There was tough questioning in Copenhagen especially on the subject of men-only golf clubs - the R and A and Augusta National spring to mind. But this is the way of the world if you want to evolve from an insular, solitary position to one in which you are a member of a global family and those organisations need to get used to it.
Suddenly golf becomes answerable to such questions. So Mr Dawson why no female members at your R and A? And Mr Billy Payne, you ran an Olympics, so surely your Augusta club should start to move with the times?
Messrs Dawson and Payne may well have answers to those questions, but it is an interesting thought that they are now being put by some of the most influential voices in global sport.
Who knows, they may prompt change. At the very least they will inspire the kind of modern thinking required to ensure golf thrives in the 21st century.
It's also worth pointing out that while Olympic gold will not, in all honesty, be the pinnacle for Tiger Woods (assuming he's still interested in 2016 when he'll be 40) but it will be a huge motivator for those who can raise a less familiar flag at medal ceremonies.
Ireland might be one example, though Rory McIlroy's preference is to play for Britain. Golfers enjoy playing for their country and indeed, when it comes to the Ryder Cup, for their continent. The game is presented at its best when the prize is not monetary but all about glory.
But expect the United States to dominate the men's tournament and the South Koreans to clean up in the women's. The plan is for both to have fields of 60 players including the top 15 in the world from the men's and women's rankings.
The rest of the field is based on world ranking with a maximum of two players from each country. So if the Games were next week, Britain would be represented by Paul Casey and Lee Westwood by virtue of their top 15 status - were an Ian Poulter or Ross Fisher or both force themselves up to such a ranking they would play as well.
Currently the US would have seven players in the men's event. The Irish team would be Padraig Harrington (courtesy of his top 15 status) and world number 161 Damien McGrane - the next highest ranked Irishman, assuming a raft of Northern Irish players follow McIlroy's lead and declare for Britain.
There have to be reservations over the make-up of the fields because if Britain had two players in the top 15 of the women's ranking Matthew would miss out even though many of those eligible to play would be ranked well below her.
Michelle Wie (left) could be going for gold for the USA in Rio de Janeiro
An opportunity also looks like being missed by opting for straightforward 72-hole strokeplay. Other formats present the game in an attractive light whether they be group and knockout matchplay or a team format such as that used in the world cup where players team up for fourballs and foursomes.
But overall golf's inclusion in the Olympics would seem to be good news for anyone who wants to see the game move with the times.
Gold should become an ambition for all leading players and let's hope it is, because the calendar would welcome a truly global tournament not automatically staged in the United States that golfers aspire to play and win.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have shown how much the Olympics mean to them with a commendable commitment to the tennis tournament in Beijing despite its proximity in the calendar to the US Open.
There were others, however, whose approach was not so wholehearted, and there are enough cynics in golf to ensure a similar attitude from some players towards the Rio tournament.
But let's hope they are in the minority and a greying Tiger Woods with word and deed proves the IOC correct in inviting golf to join the party.