Officials have missed out on an important chance to grow the game of golf by insisting only professionals compete in the Olympics, according to Adam Scott.
Scott says the Games should be about the best amateur athletes in their given sports competing on a world stage, rather than professionals representing their countries in such sports as men’s basketball and golf.
“I've always believed that having the amateurs in from the start would have been the best way for it to go in the Olympics,” Scott said.
"I also believe if the idea is to grow the game, I'd make an argument that having the amateurs in the Olympics would grow the game the most, not us.
"I still believe that. I don't know if that'll ever happen or not, but I think it would be a real positive for the game of golf if golf was in the Olympics and the amateurs were playing.
“Professional golf hasn't been in the Olympic system, where individuals playing an individual sport with other commitments and priorities that aren't based around the Olympic Games at all, whether that's sponsors….even the PGA Tour fits under that banner.”
Scott, who was an early withdrawal from the Games, said when he was an up and coming amateur he would have been keen to play in the Olympics, but not now, as a seasoned professional.
“If I think back to when I was 16 or 17 years old and a promising golfer, making the Olympics would be something that I'd want to do very much, and also, be a very big deal, not only to me but to my country, as well, at that point,” Scott said.
“Generally, trying to get people involved in the game of golf, the kind of stats show that if they get involved early, more people stick with the game, and I think having a young golfer aspire to be an Olympian is more realistic as an amateur than a professional.
"It's just not going to happen for many as a professional, especially the way the qualification system works at the moment.
“I think looking at the big picture and long-term, not just initial impact, I believe putting the amateurs in would be a better result for growing the game if that's the point of our sport being in the Olympics.”
The Queenslander said he expected there would be more high-profile withdrawals as the Games drew closer.
World No.1 Jason Day has decided against competing, along with major winners Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Vijay Singh, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, who are concerned over security and health issues.
“I'm not surprised,” Scott said.
“The Zika threat is a serious thing to be considered, and the guys have considered that and they've made their decisions about it. I guess that's not surprising because that's been looming over this event now for the last six months probably.
“I've spent a lot of time thinking about it and listening to what all the other guys have said in interviews, and I think the IGF and the IOC need to think about what they do for the next one because it's obviously not gone the way they've planned it, and I think they should think about that and how professional golf fits in the Olympic system.”