Is Golf In The Olympics?
Are you a fan of golf? Have you ever dreamed of watching your favorite golfer compete in the Olympic Games? If so, then you may be wondering if golf is currently an Olympic sport.
In this article, we’ll look at the history of golf in the Olympics and how it managed to regain its place on the biggest stage in sport. We’ll also discuss some of the potential benefits and challenges associated with bringing golf back to the Games.
Finally, we’ll examine some reactions from both supporters and opponents of this move.
History of Golf in the Olympics
Golf has only had a very short history as an Olympic sport.
Golf hadn’t been part of the Olympic Games since 1904 when it was included as an exhibition sport in St. Louis. However, it rejoined the fold in 2016, when men’s and women’s events were added back into the Olympics lineup after 112 years of absence. Golfers were finally able to really experience what it feels like to be an Olympian.
|Year||Venue||Entrants (Men)||Countries (Men)||Entrants (Women)||Countries (Women)|
|1900||Compiègne Golf Club||12||4||10||2|
|1904||Glen Echo Country Club||77||2||not held|
|1908||Royal St Georges/Princes||1||1|
|2016||Olympic Golf Course, Rio||60||34||60||34|
|2020||Kasumigaseki Country Club||60||35||60||35|
Benefits of Including Golf in the Olympics
The major benefits of bringing golf back to the Olympics were that countries that currently didn’t invest anything in golf would start to do so as it would be seen as worthy of some national funding.
It would also bring golf to viewers who otherwise wouldn’t get to see it whether because there isn’t much golf in their country or golf on TV is behind a paywall.
So the theory was that bringing golf into the Olympics would grow the game.
I’ve not seen any studies either way but I don’t recall anyone saying that the Olympic golf tournament spurred them on to taking up the game.
Challenges Facing Golf’s Inclusion in the Olympics
Competing in the Games would be an incredible experience for any athlete, but there are some obstacles standing in the way of its continued inclusion.
Probably the biggest is the level of apathy shown by the best male golfers in the world. Many of the best players sat out the 2016 games with some citing the outbreak of the Zika virus as the reason.
2020 only fared marginally better after several top names had to withdraw due to positive covid tests.
Another significant issue is the eligibility of players for the event. While the blurring of the lines between amateur and professional has occurred in many Olympic disciplines strangely golf still has a clear distinction between the two codes.
Given that the Olympics is meant to be the pinnacle of amateur sport, creating a tournament featuring mostly very wealthy professionals seems out of kilter.
Reactions to Golf’s Potential Inclusion
On one hand, some people welcome the potential of golf being included in this prestigious event while others remain skeptical of its inclusion due to various reasons.
The supporters of golf’s inclusion believe that it’ll give the game more exposure and bolster its popularity worldwide. Additionally, they argue that having a major sport like golf in the Olympics will add a layer of excitement to the competition and draw even bigger audiences.
On the other hand, opponents cite concerns such as having an unfair advantage for professional players from well-funded countries over amateur players from less affluent ones. They also worry that it could take away from existing events such as Ryder Cup or Majors.
Requirements for Olympic Golf
To qualify for the event you had to be in the top 60 of the world ranking and there were also stipulations preventing a country from having too many entrants. The host country was guaranteed a spot along with a spot for each of the continents if no one qualified by other means.
What Sort Of Golf Tournament Should Be In The Olympics?
With the selection criteria in place, it’s essential to consider what type of golf tournament should be featured at the Olympic level.
The powers that be have so far stuck with a plain vanilla 72-hole individual stroke-play event. It is essentially another tour event but with a restricted field!
My own opinion is that the Olympics should have been restricted to amateurs only.
You could have had an individual event for the elite amateurs that feature high on the official amateur rankings. This could have been run as a strokeplay or matchplay event or have a two-round qualifying event to see who gets through to the knockout stages.
You could then have had a team competition where each individual country could have run a series of qualifying events to get teams of club golfers to represent their countries. This could have featured mixed teams playing a Texas Scramble for example.
Can you imagine the level of interest that would generate at golf clubs around the world?
Impact of Golf in the Olympic Games
You may be wondering what the impact of golf in the Olympic Games might be. The Olympics is a platform that allows athletes and sports to be experienced by millions around the world, so introducing golf into this mix could potentially have a huge effect on how popular it is globally.
To understand more about the potential impact, let’s take a look at some of the benefits that golf in the Olympics could bring:
|Increased Global Popularity||Golf would become more widely known and appreciated worldwide.||More international tournaments, increased tourism for host countries, etc.|
|Improved Professional Careers||Professional golfers would benefit from increased exposure to sponsors and media attention.||Better earning opportunities, improved competitive performance, etc.|
|Increased Accessibility & Participation Rates||More people would have access to playing/learning golf due to lower costs and easier access to courses.||Lower green fees, more public courses available, etc.|
Is Golf In The Olympics: Conclusion
You’ve seen the history, the benefits, and the challenges of including golf in the Olympics.
At the moment the Olympics isn’t the pinnacle of golf. The four majors are what most players are aiming for. It will take a long time for that to change if it ever does.