Golf returns to the Olympics! (and/or ?)

August 10, 2016

While this year marks the return of golf to the summer Olympics in Rio, this event has been met with, at best, a lukewarm response from the golf community.

The professional ranks have given little attention to this event, with notables such as Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson, and Graeme McDowell refusing to compete for their respective countries.  Indeed, Rory has gone so far as to say that:

“I didn’t get into golf to try and grow the game. I got into golf to win championships and win major championships. I’ll probably watch the Olympics, but I’m not sure golf will be one of the events I watch.’’

While I appreciate Rory’s candor, part of me feels as though this attitude marks a departure with the beautiful amateur tradition of golf.  The days of Bobby Jones and Francis Ouimet appear to be well behind us.  I find it hard to believe that if Bobby Jones were around today with an opportunity to compete for love of country and the pure love of golf that he would shy away because of the overblown threat of Zika.  Yes, golf in the Olympics does not have the history or tradition of a U.S. Amateur or British Amateur, but don’t we have to start somewhere?  Even if we hold the IOC in such low regard as to think that they would add the Olympics to get a few more viewers, shouldn’t golf be happy to take advantage of the opportunity to grow the game to countries that have no significant exposure?

In any event, I think the IOC (or whoever oversaw the competition) did the game a disservice by sticking with a monumentally boring 72-hole medal play format and not including a team component and/or a component where men and women compete in the same event.  How great would it be to have a mixed best ball event?  an alternate shot event?  I understand that the committee is just dipping a toe in the water, but come on!  Let’s make this something people want to watch!  To the format’s credit, there will be playoffs in the event of any ties, so there will not be 4-5 bronze medals given out for T-3s.

At minimum, we get some really great stories like Ben An, who’s parents were Olympians in their own right in table tennis.  When they met during the Olympics, Ben’s South Korean father told a young lady on the Chinese team that he loved her at first site.  Despite the diplomatic disaster that relationship could have caused, the two were married and had Ben.  While the parents were able to collectively capture a silver and a pair of bronze medals, neither was able to obtain the gold.  Because golf is now back in the Olympics, Ben has a chance to add to the family collection.

I understand the wider golf community’s immediate lack of interest in golf’s return to the Olympics, but I find it slightly disheartening.  I personally doubt it will ever hold the same weight as a major, but I would hope it takes on significance comparable to the Ryder cup.  I find any event where nations compete for the love the game exciting, and hope that golf can assign the same gravity to the Olympics as most other sports have in time.

*This opinion, in no way, shape, or form, is shared by JK.

Advertisements

One Response to “Golf returns to the Olympics! (and/or ?)”

  1. Lock Kyle Says:

    @makegolffunagain


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: