Perhaps last week’s results from the GNN Poll indicating little or no interest in Olympic golf will begin to change once David Hearn and Graham DeLaet tee it up in the men’s competition this week in Rio, followed by Brooke Henderson and Alena Sharp in women’s play.
All four Canadians have exhibited a patriotic rush for representing their countries and maybe that will be contagious once play gets going. Coming into the games, there was enough controversy to make one question golf’s inclusion in the Olympics past 2020 in Tokyo.
Of course, the excitement of the Canadian is refreshing considering all the withdrawals of marquee players, particularly on the men’s side, most citing the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus as the main reason when, I suspect, it’s only a minor reason.
While early reports out of Rio indicate an absence of mosquitoes, there are other health concerns for athletes, not to mention threats of terrorism, crime, budget cuts, inadequate security and unfinished athletes accommodations and transit.
Some have said these concerns have been blown out of proportion and while that may be true, is it possible that officials are saying that just to save the Olympics? Here’s hoping for the safety of all concerned that all of these pre-Games worries are exaggerated.
We’ll see over the next few weeks, but I suspect that had the Olympics been in Tokyo this year, more of the game’s top male players might have been more open to attending, despite concerns about the back-end-loaded PGA Tour schedule.
Had that been the case, would we even have been talking about golf’s future in the Olympics past 2020 when the Games will be held in Tokyo?
Given all the WDs, does the IOC want golf anymore? On the other hand, does golf want the Olympics, given its focus on majors as the ultimate in championships.
At this point, it’s obvious Canadian players want the Games, as does the women’s side of Olympic golf, which has embraced it.
It will all be discussed next year and perhaps, there are solutions that may save Olympic golf.
Former PGA Tour player Richard Zokol suggests in this conversation I had with him that a three-person team event would make it more unique and the dynamic of a team event would put peer pressure on the marquee names to take part.
Should the Olympics be amateur, which would be greeted enthusiastically by players who don’t get paid?
Then again, does the IOC see golf for its marquee value with a financial windfall exclusively? If that’s the case, then the idea of pure athletic competition goes out the window in favour of a money grab.
There are things that can be done to keep golf in the Olympics, but will the powers-that-be be willing to tinker with the 72-hole stroke formats that really aren’t any different than what you see on the PGA or LPGA Tours.
Do you see change coming in format or who plays? Does the IOC really want golf, or for that matter, does golf want the Olympics? That’s the topic of this week’s GNN Poll.
Do you see a future for golf in the Olympics beyond 2020 in Tokyo?
You can vote below or on the GNN home page and if you’d like to expand your thoughts, please use the Comments section below.
Do you see a future for golf in the Olympics beyond 2012 in Tokyo?
- YES (57%)
- NO (43%)