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Dutch Golfers Denied Chance to Compete at Paris Olympics

Last Updated: July, 8 2024
Dutch Golfers Denied Chance to Compete at Paris Olympics

The Netherlands Golf Federation (NGF) has decided to only send Anne van Dam to represent the country in golf at the 2024 Paris Olympics, denying other eligible golfers like Dewi Weber the opportunity to chase their Olympic dreams.


Anne van Dam will represent the country (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)


Weber had learned earlier this week that she had officially qualified for the Olympics based on the standards set by the International Olympic Committee and International Golf Federation. This would have been a pinnacle achievement for the 28-year-old, coming just a week before her wedding. However, her excitement quickly turned to heartbreak.


Carmen Mandato/ Getty Images


Despite having four golfers eligible - Dewi Weber, Anne van Dam, Darius van Driel and Joost Luiten - the Dutch national federation sets its own additional criteria for golfers to meet in order to compete at the Olympics. They disagree with the automatic qualification standards from the international bodies.


Joost Luiten of The Netherlands/ Getty


Darius Van Driel/ Getty


To make the Dutch team, women must be ranked in the top 24 and men in the top 27 of the Olympic Golf Rankings (OGR). None of the eligible players met this threshold. There is an alternative path of achieving a top 8 finish in one of eight designated strong tournaments, which van Dam qualified through last year.


Weber called the news "heartbreaking", saying the message sent is that her country doesn't view her as "worthy of being an Olympian". She and the others offered to pay their own way to compete.


"Our own country is saying we don't think you're worthy of being an Olympian, and you're not worthy of representing the Netherlands," Weber said. "And that, honestly, that hurts. We even asked them, 'Hey, is this about money? Like, we will pay for it ourselves. Our Federation will pay for it.'


"And they said no, we just don't think you're worth it going to the Olympics. That is such a hurtful and sad message to send to elite athletes like us who have proven, according to the IOC and IGF standards, that we are worthy of doing that and we want nothing more than to represent our country and do all the things that the Olympics are about."


The extra criteria have prevented players like Luiten, a six-time European Tour winner, from competing in past Olympics. Fellow pros questioned why results-based qualification isn't used solely instead.


In a last-ditch effort, the Dutch Golf Federation presented data showing how the athletes could contend in Paris. However, the national committee decided to stick with their standards, leaving Weber and others' Olympic dreams denied by their own country.


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Why does the Netherlands have such strict qualification standards for golfers?


The Dutch national federation wants to ensure any golfers they send to the Olympics have a realistic shot at winning a medal. Unlike sports like swimming or track and field, golf is more unpredictable - world rankings alone don't guarantee Olympic success since tournaments can vary so much.


The federation believes their extra criteria provide a better gauge of who can truly compete at an elite level on the biggest Olympic stage. Requiring top 24 for women and top 27 for men filters out golfers they feel don't have consistent enough form.


They've also set the alternative pathway of requiring a top eight finish in a designated big event in the year leading up. That demonstrates an athlete can handle the pressure of competing against the world's best when it matters most.


Some see the standards as unfairly restrictive. But from the federation's perspective, sending golfers just because they qualify per the basic IOC rankings doesn't serve the Netherlands' interests if those athletes have little chance of medaling.


As the national committee responsible for all Dutch Olympic athletes, they want to focus limited funding and roster spots on golfers who fit the stringent profile they think can perform under immense pressure on golf's grandest global stage. It's a strategy also followed by many other nations.


So in the federation's view, stricter criteria better predict Olympic excellence and maximize the Netherlands' chances of celebrating success in Paris and beyond. But it does come at the cost of denying opportunities to qualified golfers.






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Olivia has a journalism degree and has covered women's professional golf for nearly a decade. She is known for her thoughtful profiles of LPGA stars, as well as her ability to bring the drama and storylines of the women's game to the forefront. Respected by players and fans alike, this author provides unparalleled access and analysis of the world's best female golfers.

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