By Beth Myers: As you likely have heard, golf will be added to the schedule of event for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Golf has not been part of the Olympic program for over 100 years – last being included St. Louis in 1904.
The competition will be traditional 72 hole stroke play competition for both men and women. Golf is already a global sport, but its inclusion in on the Olympic stage will only serve to further that presence. Consider the following points as reasons that golf will benefit from joining the rest of the world in Rio.
- Television Exposure. It’s not like golf has trouble getting on TV, but the Olympics is a whole different animal. People who don’t normally watch golf tournaments will be tuned in simply because there are medals on the line.
- The drama that can build over the final round of an event is unlike any other in sports – and will draw in even those with no golf knowledge. The excitement from an event such as this is sure to create new golfers out of people who have never picked up a club.
- Funding For Youth. Many countries across the world fund youth programs with the direction of winning Olympic medals. With that possibility out there for golf now as well, youth golf programs will likely seen a boost in funding over the coming years.
- In addition, there will be more attention paid to generating interest among promising young athletes to consider golf. By recruiting the best of the best to play golf for their country, the Olympic Committees will be helping the world of golf as a whole.
- Not The Same Old Hat. As much as we all love the four majors, and the every-other-year Ryder Cup, we are very used to them. Golf in the Olympics will be new, different, and exciting. Having the players vie for a medal both for themselves and their countries gives a twist to the duels we are used to seeing.
- Sports are best when they stay fresh and keep us on our toes. It will of course be the same top players we are accustomed to, but the competition will feel fresh because of what is on the line.
- A Dream Come True. For the great golfers of our (or any) generation, an Olympic medal was never thought to be a possibility. A major championship was always the pinnacle of the sport, and standing on the podium with a gold medal was only for athletes of other sports.
Now that golf has been included, I can only imagine the excitement and anticipation of the world’s top players at the thought of capturing a gold medal for their country. Just making the Olympic team at all will be a great accomplishment in itself.
For golf fans, the 2016 Rio Olympics will be memorable and exciting. It is, however, four years away so don’t assume that the top players of today will necessarily be roaming the fairways in those games. Guys like Rory and Keegan Bradley seem like sure bets – but what about Tiger and Phil? Lee Westwood?
It’s hard to think at this point, but some of those greats might not be ranked highly enough by 2016 in order to punch a ticket to Rio.
Beth Myers is a passionate golfer, mother & wife…not in that order .