John Renslow: Olympic golf good for the game
Golf was played at the 1900 Paris Olympics and 1904 St. Louis games. However, gone the way of “tug-of-war” and “pistol dueling,” golf was not featured in the 1908 program and did not return until 2016.
The International Olympic Committee considers the events for each Olympic Games well in advance (for example, new events for 2016 were decided in 2010). Some of the events are discontinued and others are introduced.
In the 2016 Summer Olympics, we saw the addition of golf and rugby. In 2012, additions included women’s boxing, mixed doubles in tennis and a new format for the modern pentathlon.
A total of 26-28 sports (plus additional “disciplines”) have comprised the schedule for the games for the 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games (yes, it’s 2021, but who wants to order new signage and memorabilia?).
Baseball and softball, previously dropped from the program, have returned for 2020, as well as karate, surfing and sport climbing.
Golf has returned for its second stint and this continues to be great news for the game.
Players represent their respective countries. Yet, rather than a format that could highlight these countries, such as a team event, or put the spotlight on top players with match play, the format is the same as almost any other week on tour. It is a common four-day, 72-hole stoke play competition.
The difference, of course, is that over 40 countries will be represented by sending individuals or pairs of players that total 120 participants, 60 women and 60 men from around the globe. Bangladesh, Columbia, Hong Kong, the Czech Republic, Israel, and Morocco, for example, have just one golfer in the games, while most countries have four (two men and two women) and South Korea and the United States will have at least six players in the field.
Representing your country in sport is not only patriotic, it is a unique test. Once the tee is in the ground, it’s not for the money, it’s for your homeland and a medal.
Not only is this good for us avid golfers and the viewers, it is a shot in the arm for golf around the world. In many countries around the world, a sport can only receive government funding and major attention if it is an “Olympic sport.”
Wonderful stuff — watching the globe’s best on the world stage and the opportunity for growth in the game, hopefully in Olympic proportions.
John Renslow is a PGA professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses
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