It seems like every other day yet another big golf name, both male and female, is withdrawing from the upcoming Rio Olympics. Whether it’s for safety reasons (apparently some athletes already in town have been robbed), the Zika virus threat, or the generic excuse of “scheduling”, I don’t really blame them. The 2016 Olympics are plagued. Sad, but true.
Yes, the Olympics are the biggest stage in sports and yes, the golf world is looking for ways to promote and reach a new audience. Is this the right platform though? I do agree it’s worth a shot but at what cost?
Just yesterday Golf Digest posted a report that one IOC member is protesting by saying, “If your best won’t compete, you don’t belong in the Games.” …meaning, cancel golf. Seems logical and at first I would absolutely agree but then I had a second thought… don’t cancel it. Let some upcoming top competitors and future PGA and LPGA stars take their places. This is the perfect stage for a budding soon to be professional golfer win a massively major event.
When you watch standard Olympic sporting events such as swimming, gymnastics, and beach volleyball the competitors aren’t big household names… yet. As in other sports, countries hold a trials competition and allow the top handful to attend as competitors on their behalf. Those that win become country heros and grace the front of magazines and Wheaties boxes. Sure this is supposed to be golf’s big re-entry into the Olympics in over a hundred years but I think it’s safe to say we have plenty of big Major events throughout our season to keep us satisfied with important and worldly competition. Maybe instead this is the platform to launch new stars and new golf names. Maybe this is a great platform to show youngsters around the world that other young athletes are competing at top levels and inspire them to pick up a club.
You can’t say that a couple of weeks ago Ireland wasn’t rooting for Shane Lowry to win the US Open. You can’t say that Spaniards weren’t pulling for Sergio or that Americans weren’t high-fiving for DJ’s big win. Just for the professional men golfers the Masters, US Open, The Open Championship, and the PGA Championship are our Olympics. Same goes for the women. You could even add the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup events because it’s still a big deal to us golf fans and our countries.
Here’s my proposition to the Olympic Committee – don’t cancel golf but instead adjust the competition. Let’s make it an event for the best of the best in the amateur golfing world. To the PGA and LPGA let’s give a one year tournament entry card to the winning gold medal holder. Allot 7 tournament entry cards to the silver and maybe 3 to the bronze medalist. Why not? If the Olympics want golf, let’s keep our golfing Major events as the most prestigious and important golf challenges in all of the world. We don’t need a special tournament once every four years. That’s silly. Every single year we want to celebrate our countryman or woman who can hoist the cup, plate, or slip on the jacket.
What do you think? Keep golf in the Olympics, change up the competition structure, or just cancel it all together?
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