This week’s Sympatico column is now online.
Here’s a taste:
Golf is now an Olympic sport for the first time since 1904.
Sure there’s no course appropriate in Rio de Janeiro to hold the first Olympic golf tournament since 1904, when Canadian amateur George Lyon won the gold. And no one has any idea who will be participating when golf shows up in Brazil in 2016.
But ask PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem whether golf’s inclusion in the biggest sports boondoggle will benefit the game and he’s clear and decisive.
“This is, I think, a great day for the sport of golf,” Finchem said last week when the announcement of golf’s inclusion in the games was made official. Finchem’s take on Olympic golf is based on two points. First, he points out Olympic golf will help expand the game globally in places like Eastern Europe, South America and Asia. Additionally the image of the game “ still regarded as a bastion of the blue blooded elite “ will be fundamentally altered. By becoming part of the Olympics, golf will be viewed as a true sport, Finchem says, just like race walking and synchronized swimming.
Of course, Finchem is counting on the Olympic tournament “ 72 holes over four rounds “ to become akin to golf’s fifth major, a tournament with true international appeal.
Professional golf has been trying to find a way of tapping into the international spirit of sport for some time. Sure the European Tour has events in Africa and Asia, and the PGA Tour has North America covered. But the PGA Tour’s attempt to expand the sport through the so-called World Golf Championships, which now take place exclusively in the U.S., have been a feeble failure. Yes those tournaments involve golfers from places like Sweden, Japan and Korea. But almost all of those foreign players now live in Orlando, and the “world golf” element takes place on international courses in places like Arizona and Ohio.
Will Olympic golf change that? That’s not as clear as Finchem seems to think it is.