Olympic golf at Augusta National?

Masters Chairman Billy Payne welcomes patrons following the honorary starters teeing off on the first tee for the start of the 2013 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club Thursday morning in Augusta, Ga., April 11, 2013. Legends of golf, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus started the Masters with a tee shot on the first tee. JASON GETZ / AJC file
Caption
Masters Chairman Billy Payne welcomes patrons following the honorary starters teeing off on the first tee for the start of the 2013 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club Thursday morning in Augusta, Ga., April 11, 2013. Legends of golf, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus started the Masters with a tee shot on the first tee. JASON GETZ / AJC file

With golf restored to the Olympic menu for the Rio de Janeiro Games, it was perhaps inevitable that Masters chairman Billy Payne would face a question about bringing the Games back to Atlanta so that Augusta National might host the world.

Payne, chief architect of the Atlanta Games, championed a move to reintroduce Olympic golf in 1996, proposing Augusta National as the venue. But the idea fell apart, yielding to the politics surrounding the club’s exclusionary membership policies at the time.

Asked Wednesday whether Atlanta should take another run at the Games to host Olympic golf at his club, Payne asked for “a lot of leeway on this answer, since I surely won’t be chairman then” and gave this response:

“As to the Atlanta Olympics, having a shot at it, it would have to be somebody else (to organize the effort) obviously. But we are building sports facilities at a rapid rate. We certainly have not lost our capability for doing it, and so I remain enthusiastic about the Games coming back to the United States. We have a candidate now. I’m very excited about Los Angeles, so we’ll see what happens.”

Payne was referring to Los Angeles’ bid for the 2024 Games, which will be determined in September.