Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Should Golf Be Part of the Olympics?

Written by David Bryce

The last Olympic gold medal for golf is an antique by now after it was won in 1904 by George Lyon. Since that time, amateur and professional golfers have focused on the prestigious Opens and other major tournaments which now sport large purses. The schedule is very busy with 45 tournaments for the PGA and 29 for the LPGA ranging from January to February and the 2016 Olympics is falling in between two major tournaments. That being said, clubs will be swinging in Rio de Janeiro come 2016 on a course that hasn’t even been built yet.

Signed Tiger Woods Photo - 2008 US Open" 16x20 Celebration Unframed UDA)Schedule Conflicts
The 2016 Olympics will open on Aug 5th and close on the 21st and threatens to clash with the British Open or the PGA Championships.  British Open and Championship officials are attempting to move around tournament dates for the 2016 year, but that also threatens further outlying tournaments.  Adding a two week long tournament (one for men, one for women) that doesn’t offer prize money to an already busy schedule keeps high profile names away from the tournament. They’d rather focus their energies on winning the prestigious Open and flying across the pond to play in the Championships without a layover in Brazil.

A Lacking Venue
Brazil might be one of the largest countries in the world, yet in only boasts around a hundred golf courses, and they won’t be used in the 2016 Olympics. The Olympic course has yet to be built and the contract to build it was just recently given to Gil Hanse. Don’t worry; I didn’t know who he was either.  The fact that Brazil doesn’t foster a bustling golf community isn’t the biggest issue either. Olympic golf will lack in prize money, and will compete for airtime with more popular sports. Golf, especially women’s, already suffers from low television ratings and there won’t be much interest to tune into golf at Rio de Janeiro.

Same ol’ – Same ol’
The format for golf at the Olympics is exactly what occurs week in, week out, at almost every other major tournament. 72 stroke play with three whole tie breakers. This is undoubtedly the best way to award medals to individuals, but this is the Olympics; a venue that is supposed to unite teammates and countries around the world. Olympic golf should offer something new and different that adds some sort of excitement to the sport if it wants to draw attention on an international scale while in Brazil.

The Other Country Club
Professional golf is often compared to tennis, and for good reason. Both highlight individuals who compete for large purses in many tournaments throughout the year with focus on the handful of larger tournaments, the Slams in Tennis’ case. Olympic Tennis falls between the French Open and Wimbledon, and for the 2012 Olympics the matches were played at Wimbledon only weeks after. Many people think that high ranking pros would want to skip over the Olympics that don’t offer prize money, but the top four players were all in attendance for tennis. The finals even offered a rematch for Roger Federer and Andy Murray who had recently played in the Wimbledon finals, and Murray finally beat Federer to claim the gold. This adds weight to golf’s reintroduction to the Olympics, especially when Tiger has voiced excitement over the potential chance to play in Brazil in 2016.

Golf at the Olympics really doesn’t do much, if anything, for the sport as a whole. If it increases viewership it will be only slightly, and it will be quickly forgotten with the PGA Championships occurring right after it. For golf to be successful as an Olympic sport it needs to offer something fresh, with big names competing for the medals. It’s great that the International Olympic Committee is willing to give it a shot, but a lot hinges on how well Rio de Janeiro can pull it off. So should golf be part of the Olympics? We’ll know for sure on August 22nd, 2016.

David Bryce is an online publisher for Thousand Hills Golf Resort in Branson, MO. He blogs on the topics of golf, travel, and vacations.

Olympic Golf
Should golf be part of the Olympics

I Don;t Care


  1. I like the idea of golf in the Olympics, but really how many countries could send competitive golfers? It seems that most events have 2 athletes per country, how big would the field be? I agree it would be great to see pros, but maybe sending amateurs instead of professionals would be more viable, it would be neat just to have a qualifying tournament. The Olympics need something fresh, the sports selection seems odd with no baseball/softball yet they allow badminton and the throwing of matches.

  2. Good points JB. If they have golf, I would like to see a 1 round elimination format. Foe example player x from country a playing player y from country b. I don;t like the idea of a multiple day format with multiple players per round.

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