Watching the Olympics? Silly question…. of course you are & how good is this festival of sport! I’ve always enjoyed seeing sports, which don’t get week-to-week coverage have their moment in the spotlight.
I’m not just talking about the big ones like Track & Field or Swimming either. The skill in Volleyball is immense, whether it’s indoors or on the beach. How fit are Rowers & Gymnasts? And don’t get me started on the physicality of water polo (rugby in the pool!)
In 4 years time at Rio we’ll be watching golf as well & while I’m delighted about the added boost it will give the sport, I’m concerned it will fall into the same category as Tennis, especially if officials go with the generic 72 hole stroke-play format as planned.
Ok here’s a test… name me three Men’s singles gold medallists since Tennis was re-introduced in 1988?
Sure, I’ll give you Andre Agassi (Atlanta ‘96) & Rafa Nadal (Beijing ’08) but if any of you reeled off Miroslav Mecir (88), Marc Rosset (92), Yevgeny Kafelnikov (2000) or Nicholas Massu (04) send me your details & we’ll hit the pub trivia scene together.
Let’s be honest… does Tennis have a greater participation rate or profile since readmission to the Olympic movement? You’d find very few who could successfully debate for the affirmative.
In my opinion, when an Olympic gold medal isn’t the biggest prize in the sport it shouldn’t be in the Games. No, I’m not saying golf shouldn’t be part of the Olympics, just not professional golf.
Here was a great opportunity to give Amateurs & the many formats of our game, a platform to shine, instead of a straight up 72-hole stroke-play event for men & women. How about using match play, alternate shot & 4-ball competitions. That way you could have individual winner & a combined team score.
Gymnastics give out team medals while all disciplines (uneven bars, the vault, floor routine, rings etc) are awarded individual medals in conjunction.
Further still to promote faster play, lets consider 9 or 12-hole events as well. Hey, it’s worked for T20 cricket & rugby 7s.
We’d get introduced to new talent from around the world & when they rise to prominence in the pro ranks, being an Olympic medallist would be another string to their bow. Everyone loves discussing future stars of the game.
Very rarely do commentators recall who came 2nd or 3rd at The Eisenhower Cup or US & British Amateurs but I would certainly use that someone won a medal of any kind in future commentary.
It would add further value to the amateur game, which is undervalued these days by the huge prize purses on offer.
As Sam Kekovich says, “you know it makes sense!”
Golf has been given a wonderful opportunity, by being added to the Olympics from 2016 - it’d be a shame to waste it.
Luke Elvy hosts golf for Network TEN, is currently covering the PGA Tour in the US and is a freelance columnist for GolfAustralia.org.au His views do not necessarily represent those of Golf Australia. You can follow him on Twitter: @elvisgolf.