The Winter Olympics in Vancouver seem like an odd place for a golf scouting mission, but Jeff Thompson, chief sport development officer for the Royal Canadian Golf Association, will be in town starting Saturday to pay attention to behind-the-scenes activities.
Thompson is visiting the Games as part of the Olympic Familiarization Program conducted by the Canadian Olympic Committee to introduce personnel from sports coming into the Games, or people who have never witnessed operations behind the scenes.
“We’re going to see what’s involved from a security standpoint, which is important just trying to prepare the players for what they’re going to experience when they get there, and the accommodations arrangements – what do they look like, what’s the athletes village like, where’s the eating area,” said Thompson.
“They’re certainly schooling us on the more you can replicate and get the athletes prepared, the less impact it’s going to have on them and hence, their performance levels,” he added.
When new players break out on a new tour, you quite often hear them talk about how it takes awhile for them to adjust to new courses, hotels, cities, etc. That will be magnified at when golf returns to the Olympics in 2016.
Although the RCGA doesn’t know which players represent Canada – whether it’s an experienced player such as Mike Weir, or younger players such as Nick Taylor, Matt Hill, Samantha Richdale or Lisa Meldrum – Thompson says the first step is preparing staff members, who can eventually pass it on to players.
“It’s as much about preparing your, let’s call it you support team – coaches, sports science staff, etc. – as it is about preparing the players,” said Thompson, adding that players will also have to deal with the multi-sport nature of the Olympics, something that golfers don’t run into much.
“I’m sure when I come back, there will be a lot of things that I didn’t think I was going to have to know or need to know,” said Thompson.