Olympic Golf

Olympic-Golf-Course-Rio-de-Janeiro-Gil-Hanse-Design-photo

9 August 2016 (Pasadena, CA) After an absence of 102 years golf is back as an Olympic event. The last time golf was played under the Olympic banner was 1904 in St. Louis at Glen Echo Country Club won by Canadian George Lyon. Chandler Egan from the United States took the silver with a US pair sharing the bronze (Francis Newton and Burt McKinnie). Old Tom Morris was still alive and Theodore Roosevelt was president. World War 1 was still a decade away. It’s been awhile. Now golf is back. Here are a few thoughts two days before the first men’s matches and 9 days before the ladies’ matches begin (note that women’s golf was not included in the 1904 games). So after a century it is probably important that professionals compose the majority of the 40 nations represented (60 men, 60 women). With the re-introduction of golf to the Olympics star-power may translate to better ratings which may be the bottom-line for the survival of the golf as an Olympic competition. I look forward to watching it and I am damn happy the Golf Channel is covering it from top to bottom. I do lament that the men’s draw lacks many in the top 10. I celebrate that this is not the case on the women’s side. Evidently men have a greater phobia of mosquitoes than women. As far as professionals playing, again, I think their star power enhances the chance of golf’s survival as an Olympic game but once established I would like to see it become an amateur event. I call this the “Soviet-ization” of the Olympics from a US perspective. It was 1972, the year a group of US basketball amateurs “lost” to a powerful Soviet team which I believe ultimately gave rise to the professional basketball “Dream Teams.” Never again would the US be embarrassed/cheated in Olympic basketball. So, send a bunch of NBA players and take all of the excitement out of Olympic basketball (and a few other sports). Thus, in 2016 some 44 years after the fact we get a whole slew of PGA and LPGA players composing Olympic golf teams. Did anyone watch the University of Oregon’s men or the University of  Washington’s women win their D1 championships? Amateur team and individual golf and it was some of the most compelling golf I have watched all year. So I would argue, let the pros plant the seed but return the game to the amateurs once established. Secondly, why isn’t their a team component? Multiple players, male and female, lament the lack of team play. Why not individual and team play. I agree. Let’s add a touch of the Ryder Cup to the games. Finally, the course. I like what I see. Links style with a sticky grass is an interesting combination. I am anxious to see how the players approach the course. I am also a big fan of holes 16, 17, and 18 as closing holes. A short par 3, a reachable par 4 at just over 300 yards and a closing par 5 are sure to lead to late-match scoring fireworks. And what about the varmints that roam the course?  I’d like to see how Henrik, Lexi, or Bubba negotiate a capybaras next to their ball. So let the games begin and like Mr. Palmer, I too will be pulling for America, North and South as well as Asia, Europe, Australia and Africa. Welcome back to the Olympic games!

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