Golf has returned to the Olympics for the first time since 1904, where Canadian, George Lyon, took home the gold medal. Golf’s long awaited return to the pinnacle of sports competitions has sparked a debate as to whether the Olympics should or will be considered golf’s ‘fifth major’.
Due to recent withdrawals by many of the world’s top players, most notably: Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, and Rory McIlroy, golf in the Olympics has had a rough start pertaining to attracting world renown players in an effort to ‘grow the game’. McIlroy going as far as to say that he would watch the olympics but, not golf, only the “…ones that matter.”
The obvious absence of the game’s top players not only hinder the potential of the field but also demote the importance of the Olympics to one less than that of the four coveted major championships. Concerning the withdrawals, players have cited their reasons as being the Zika virus, scheduling conflict, and other excuses in an effort to not make the trip to Rio to compete in the event in which other athletes train impeccably hard and strive just for an opportunity to represent their country and the chance to take home a medal.
Since, there is no prize money available to the professional, high profile golfers, the Zika virus provides an easy out to athletes who have no real interest in competing in the Olympics. Without some incentive to athletes who are used to large purses and sponsor’s endorsements, golf in the Olympics will feature a lacklustre field and lower ratings, thus prohibiting it from becoming golf’s ‘fifth major’.
All four of golf’s penultimate championships have an aura about them in which the Olympics cannot replicate. The traditional nature of these tournaments, (the newest major being ‘The Masters’ which began in 1934) create an immediate place in history for whoever should be so lucky to win one.
No modern day professional golfers dreamt of winning an Olympic gold medal, simply for the fact that golf was not played in the Olympics. Any golfer alive today would much rather slip on a green jacket, or hoist the Claret Jug, or Wanamaker Trophy than be awarded the gold medal.
The lack of history surrounding golf’s rebirth in the Olympics is just another factor into why it should not be considered a ‘fifth major’.
In general, not only is there a lack of the game’s top players competing in golf’s highly anticipated comeback to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but also the lack of historical significance in the Olympics makes the event less appealing to players and fans alike.The atmosphere will not even be close to that attained by each and every of the four majors.
For all of these reasons, and more, the Olympics should not be considered golf’s ‘fifth major’.