July 30th 2021

The Olympics and Golf

The Olympics and Golf

The Olympics and Golf. It's been a thrilling year in the Majors this year, after having to skip the The Open Championship in 2020 we were back to four Majors in 2021. And this week we see the Olympics taking center stage with golf being represented by the world's elite. Golf was featured in the Summer Olympic Games official programme in 1900 and 1904 and we reintroduced in 2016.

However, the Olympics has always been a nod to the amatuer competitors in the individual sports. Except for the titans of track and field along with swimming, the other sports are represented by athletes that have ‘normal’ 9 till 5 jobs and fit their training regimes into their lives as best they can.

Golf though is a different animal. Qualification is based primarily upon the Official World Golf Ranking (men) and Women's World Golf Rankings, with the top 15 of each gender automatically qualifying (with a limit of four per country), and then the highest ranked players from countries that had not yet already qualified two players.

Much has been spoken about the professional game included in the Olympics, while the game has one of the most stringent amateur policies of most sports (amateurs are not paid) there are several events that are as old and prestigious as the Majors in professional golf. The Amateur Championship, The US Amateur to name but two. Both carry more weight in the game than gold at the Olympics.

So here's my argument, the format is the same four days of strokeplay. We see this each week on the main tours across the world. An opportunity to be able to use the different formats of the game completely bypassed. The options are endless, similar to tennis, the game has several great formats that could have been included into the Olympics. A foursomes tournament, over nine holes in a round robin format. A classic team event. An individual tournament is reduced to 36 holes for both genders, creating a pool of players that make the grade to compete against each other in a matchplay event, similar to the amateur events. A mixed foursomes event pitting the best of the ladies and men playing together against one another, again in a round robin format. Creating shorter formats of the game’s long windedness, and you’ll see men and women going at everything and the birdies will create a fantastic frenzy for the sport. We know that all the men and women competing this week are good at their discipline over four days of tournament golf but what a missed opportunity to experiment and create a new buzz for the game. Just look at cricket and how the formats have created short, fun filled competition.

Growing the sport has to be the end game for the industry, creating fun tournaments using the formats available to the game, should be in my opinion, the priority of the Olympics and golf. Maybe in time there will be a review but for now, my bet is on Collin Morikawa.