Not Since 1904
Golf has not been a part of the Olympics since 1904, somewhat odd seeing that it is one of the most popular sports across the globe. It took over 90 years to ever even be considered again, when back in 1996 it was yanked off the ballot. It was considered one more time almost 10 years later when the Olympic Committee decided to pull the plug again on the sport, stating that their was not enough support from the tours. So why after 100 years is PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem so adamant about trying to convince the committee that golf should be an olympic sport?
Golf on Decline
Well, over the last few years (average rounds of golf played) per year have been on somewhat of a steady decline. And so has the number of new golfers playing the game. Which worries the commissioner and rightly so, because if you don’t have enough new golfers starting to play the game and the ones you do have are not playing as much, you have a big problem. Over the past decade Tiger has made this a non-issue but with his appeal to the younger generation fading, the game of golf is desperately seeking new ways to attain some fresh new hackers. Remember, in 2016 when they plan to hold golf as a sport in the Olympics for the first time, Tiger will be 40 years old! So, Finchem seems to be trying to plan ahead and make sure he has a few back up plans once Tiger’s allure has dissolved. Not a bad idea right?
Well it is if you are only thinking short term and want to attain viewership and new eyes and ears to the game. But the Olympics is not about increasing awareness for individual sports over the short term they are about the long term. And when you really begin to dissect this thing it begins to have a little bit of a fishy stench. Finchem in my opinion is only thinking of the short term goals for US Golf and remember this is an international sport.
Even just a few years back Tiger himself said, “I don’t think it would be a big priority in our game.”
So what has changed? Well when Tiger made this statement back in 2000, the game of golf was at its pinnacle in regards to attaining new golfers. And now, well, just like the economy, the game of golf has fallen on hard times as well.
Golf is a game about tradition and both old and new golfers learn to
love that about the game, so why not focus on what brought people to this tradition rich sport in the first place. Don’t try creating a new traditon by putting golf into the Olympics. You already have a better version of Olympic Golf right now…it’s called the Ryder Cup. And if you say, well, the Ryder Cup does not shine light on all the countries of the world. Then look no further then the 4 Majors you already have. Where people from every corner of the earth compete against one another.
The game of golf is fine, its the marketing of the game that needs improvement. So Mr. Finchem please, be more creative when thinking of ways to grow the game. A simple 15-minute brainstorm session can come up with something better then a “Watered Down” version of the Ryder Cup.