Why golf shouldn't be at the Olympics
Published 18/08/2008 16:47:16 in Golf Features
Golf is to be an Olympic sport once again after a 104 year hiatus.The lobbyists won the battle and we're going to see the likes of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and all the others duke it out in Rio de Janeiro. Many professionals are in favour of its inclusion, no doubt keen to grab a gold medal to go with their millions. I don't agree with them.
Golf is a massive participation sport, one of the few that has a truly global appeal. In the modern era it also has figureheads that are not only excellent proponents of the sport, but also genuine world stars. Tiger Woods is a global icon despite losing his squeaky clean image to sex scandals
Pro vs Amateur
Now in order for the golfing Olympic event to be worthwhile, it simply has to include professional players. This much isn't up for debate. A golfing event without Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson would be seriously devalued. The Olympics isn't supposed to be about big names, granted, it's supposed to be about the best athletes reaching their peak with the world watching.
However the Olympics were always traditionally about amateur athletes. I say traditionally because with sports like football (or soccer if you prefer) and tennis now rife with stars like Ronaldo and Roger Federer, it's clear the IOC are thinking more about boosting ratings and popularity rather than retaining integrity.
Golf already has four marquee events - the majors, each with a massive purse and all the rewards that go with it. Ask any golfer if he'd rather a Claret Jug or a gold medal - I would hope he'd say the former. Or ask Rafael Nadal would he swap any of his French open titles for the gold medal won in Bejjing 2008? I think not.
This brings us on to my main beef with golf in the Olympics - it simply isn't representative of the pinnacle of the sport. Golf, and even tennis, are tour competitions where consistency over the year is rewarded with a higher place in the rankings. They are characterised by their "majors", be it at Augusta or Roland Garros. So trying to encapsulate this into one event doesn't truly reflect what the sports have become in the modern era.
Do we really need to see Tiger with a gold medal draped across his chest to prove he's number one?
"It would be great to have an Olympic gold medal, but if you asked any player, 'Would you rather have an Olympic gold medal or green jacket or Claret Jug ?' more players would say the majors." - 14-time Major Winner Tiger Woods
The very nature of golf is a long, drawn-out affair. The likelihood is that an Olympic event would be a full four day tournament. Is this too long to hold attention outside of the core golfing crowd? The event that attracts the most attention lasts a mere 9.69 seconds, golf just doesn't get the blood pumping in the same way. Sure, whilst Tiger is around there will be crowds drawn. But what about when he inevitably loses his grip on the game (be it via choice or circumstance)? Will golf be just another event in the roster, a rich pro's playground?
"I think that golf as an Olympic sport is exponentially more important to the game of golf than the majors. And the reason for that is it would bring in 168 different countries and their Olympic foundations and all those revenues would go towards the growth of the game." - Four-time Major Winner Phil Mickelson
The Olympics don't need a golfing event, just like they don't need a tennis or football event. There is a definite resentment towards these players who are already multi-millionaires stealing the show from athletes who often struggle for sponsorship. Athletes who train for hours a day at sports like rowing, weightlifting, sailing or cycling - they don't have deals with Nike or Rolex to fall back on.
What do you think? We'd love to hear from you - leave a comment below.
1. Horsecrap. I'd rather see a game of skill than archery or some bull
comment by Kevin Dunford - 20/07/2012 14:38
2. @Kevin: I think archery is pretty skilled actually!
comment by Nero - 20/07/2012 14:44
3. Sadly, the people who lobbied to get golf in the Olympics seemed less interested in it being an Olympic sport than they were in expanding markets for golf equipment manufacturers. It was like watching all the cow-towing that has been going on with China the last few years - but ignoring what the Chinese government still stands for.
comment by courtgolf - 20/07/2012 15:13
4. I think olympic golf should be a team event. Each team having a mix of young and old (like football), with top amateurs included.
comment by ijw - 21/07/2012 05:43