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John Renslow: Why not tee off for gold?

Michael Phelps. Mary Lou Retton. Mark Spitz. Kristi Yamaguchi. Tiger Woods?

Hundreds of the world’s best athletes are in the throngs of the Olympic Games. The competitions include; swimming, gymnastics, track & field, equestrian (although I’m not sure who should wear the medal), volleyball, and table tennis.

I’m sorry, what was that? table tennis? You know, ping-pong. Right alongside the triathlon and 100-meter dash.



The reasons for many of these sports being included, at one time or another, are fairly rational. (Bearing in mind the original games were held around 800 B.C.) It is still exciting to watch the fastest runners compete or to see if the women’s beach volleyball tandem can win a second gold medal.

Throughout the years, certain sports have been either discontinued or included, and today, perhaps a few should be on the chopping block. Maybe the javelin throw and the shot put should go the way of tug-of-war. (Yes, you read that right, Tug-of-War was on the schedule until 1920). Don’t get me wrong, I too am on the edge of my seat watching the flight of a 16-pound ball, but we need to keep sight of the times.




If you’re a distressed damsel in a castle tower, you might want to know who can throw a javelin the farthest. But, today’s hero probably has a badge and a .38 Special.

Every four years the International Olympic Committee holds a vote for all of the current events. If a sport falls below 51 percent support, it is dropped from the list.

There is also a maximum number of sports and maximum number of medals. Therefore, one sport must be removed in order for another to be included.

So, with basketball and soccer on the list, why not golf? Well, these are team sports you say. But, wait a minute, tennis and badminton are on the list, too.

Golf was an Olympic sport at one time, with the last event taking place in 1904 and now golf is once again being considered for the 2012 Olympic Games. Golf is a multi-national game that has an international draw and it’s top players are globally known.

The game has been around for at least three hundred years (a couple of hundred years longer than baseball or tennis) and there are approximately 60 million golfers worldwide.

It would not attract as many viewers as figure skating or soccer, but it would be a golden opportunity (pun intended) to promote the game to potential golfers around the globe.

Of course, whether golf is a game or a sport will continue to be debated. But, if one has the opportunity to wear a medal for badminton, then Tiger and company should have a chance to go for the gold.

John Renslow is general manager and director of golf at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at jrenslow@pga.com.


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