Olympic Golf – Really?

What is the point of adding golf to the Olympic Games?  I know this decision was made in 2009 for the 2016 games, but does anyone really think this will add any interest outside of what is already been generated on a global scale?  I’m sure the feel good set views this as bringing the game to those who can’t afford it or live in repressed areas where the opportunities don’t exist.  So as soon as Olympic golf takes the world by storm, we’ll start seeing youngsters in Jamaica and Republic of Chad participating by the thousands in newly constructed learning centers and tearing up their local mini tours and competing against the world’s best for spots on the PGA Tour.

This is really about letting the stars on the PGA and European Tours march around the opening ceremony waving their country’s flag and adding the title of Olympic Athlete to their resume.  The addition of professionals has permanently altered the landscape of the Olympics and not for the better.  I took great pride in the U.S. basketball and hockey teams trying to beat the “career” Olympians that the Russians continually fielded, but with the introduction of the U.S. Dream Team in 1992, the lure of the amateur competition eroded.  The world’s best professional golfers already compete every year on multiple occasions so adding Olympic golf will do nothing but over saturate the existing market.

Obviously this is a done deal, so somebody please tell me how the Olympic golf tournament will work.  How many entrants do you allocate to each country; four, six, unlimited?  Do you have qualifying with pros and amateurs like the U.S. Open and British Open?  If you insist upon participation from all countries you knowingly take spots away from the best players in the world, or do you let the top 80-100 professionals in the world ranking compete?  Would this be the 5th major?  The 2016 Olympics are set for August 5-21, right when the PGA is normally scheduled – do you move the PGA?  And what if Tiger Woods can’t qualify, God forbid.  Do you deny him the mantle of Olympic Athlete?

2 thoughts on “Olympic Golf – Really?”

  1. Being a completely non-golfer person, I have doubts over how much average Olympics games watcher can get excited over a (potentially lengthy) golf match.

    That is not to discredit or look down on Golf. In fact, it’s the opposite. I can see the technicality and the fun factors in professional Golf. However, whether that translates to instant excitement for average TV watchers during an Olympics event is questionable.

    I think it’s easier for regular Joe to get into the event/game on most of the other Olympics categories as they tend to involve much more rapid body movement in a lesser amount of time, which IMO would stir up more energy in the mind of the game watchers. This is not the case for golf, as far as I can tell in my limited viewing of the sport on TV.

    Hence, I remain curious of how this can be carried out in the Olympics framework.

  2. Thanks for the comment Alex. I don’t think the main concern is about the speed of play for the casual viewer, (I mean they already show synchronized swimming) but rather the diminishing returns from televising too many big golf events. We already have the four major tournaments, Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, and weekly PGA Tour events. IMO, that’s enough.

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