I think Olympic golf was let down by unimaginative organisation. What if they’d decided on a mixed foursomes format instead of stroke play, or dare I say it, an innovative Texas scramble event? That would have got people in the mood, but no, the powers that be opted for a boring, unimaginative tribute to our sport’s predictable reputation.
Loving to hate Olympic golf has been the favourite past time of many a fan, but I’m here to tell you why it shouldn’t be.
1. It WILL spread the word
Let’s get real, if the people in charge of golf didn’t rally for a spot at the Olympics, they would deserve the sack. It can only be a good thing. Why wouldn’t you jump on an opportunity to access a global event? Imagine someone sitting at home, the golf pops up and they see Rickie Fowler and he doesn’t look like a 50-year-old WASP. That viewer’s perception of golf has changed.
2. The women’s game needs this
A photo posted by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on
Male golfers have dropped like flies, which is a rather ironic analogy given the BS excuse making. Contrast this with the women, hardly any female golfers have withdrawn, why? Because they’re desperately seeking the profile they’re constantly denied. This is a rare opportunity for both sexes to fly the flag of golf. I spoke about WASP stereotypes earlier, now it’s about women. The ratio of golf participation in America is 3:1 in favour of men. You may say the Olympic connection is tenuous, but this is where inspiration starts.
3. Golf is rubbing shoulders with sport for once
Thanks to social media, we’re seeing our golf brethren rep hard. We’ve historically been closed off and now we’re presented with an opportunity to align ourselves with something bigger than golf. We’ve inadvertently become less elite over night. Who knows, maybe Michael Phelps will hassle Rickie for a round in the future?
4. The game HAS (and will) grow
— CLICKON Golf (@CLICKONGolf) August 10, 2016
Just think about Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman, the 318th-ranked player in the world who carried (white-knuckled) his country’s flag at the opening ceremony. Spare a thought for Adilson da Silva, the 288th ranked player in the world and Brazil’s only entry on the men’s side. He learned to play golf with a tree branch, for f*** sake! Are we really going to deprive golf of these narratives because we’re obsessed with big money tournaments?
Growth can be directly attributed to the Olympics. “The number of national golf federations around the world grew from 105 to 140,” said Ty Votaw, the International Golf Federation vice president. There! Tangible change directly instigated by golf’s participation at Rio.