I’m a huge fan of the Olympics, winter or summer, but I must admit that my reaction to seeing golf in the 2016 games has been less than enthusiastic.
Honestly, I don’t get it. I don’t understand the decision to add golf after more than 100 years without it.
Golf already has dozens of international events, from the Ryder Cup and President’s Cup to the British Open and U.S. Open, not to mention the national championships around the globe.
Beyond that, we are treated each weekend to watching the best golfers in the world compete against each other on some of the nation’s premier golf courses. What can the Olympics add to that?
The games are designed to highlight the achievements of the world’s best athletes, the great majority of whom get little or no recognition beyond the Olympics.
Proponents of Olympic golf point to the worldwide interest in the games, where more than a billion people tune in. They say it will give golf a global TV viewership that no major golf tournament, no matter how important to fans, can achieve. That, they argue, can only grow the game around the globe.
Olympic golf will indeed feature a tournament like no other.
The player selection permits the top 15 players in the world automatic entry into the 60-person tournament. After that, two players from each country will be able to participate until the 60-player limit is reached.
The USA, with four players in the top 15 — Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Ricky Fowler and Dustin Johnson — will thus have four players in the tournament. No other U.S. golfer will be eligible.
Some nations — India and Chile, for instance — will have just one golfer. Most won’t have any, of course. Women golfers will be selected the same way.
The four-day tournament (Aug. 11-14 for men, Aug. 18-21 for women) will be stroke play and individual medals will be awarded to the top three golfers, as in all other Olympic sports.
I’m not alone in my aversion to the whole idea.
Tom Watson early on let it be known he was not a fan of Olympic golf.
“I don’t want to throw cold water on it, but I don’t think it should be in the Olympics,” he said. “ still think of the Olympics as track and field and not golf.”
I guess I’ve got a lot of Watson in me because I generally agree with him. Are we both getting old and crotchety?
In the end it won’t matter as far as I’m concerned.
Having voiced my complaint, you can bet that when August rolls around, I’ll be cheering as hard as anyone for any golfer wearing red, white and blue.
Once a fan always a fan. But I still won’t get it.
Contact Bob Bestler at firstname.lastname@example.org.