I doubt golf should even be an Olympic sport, but if men’s field hockey can be (courtesy of Pakistan), then I guess golf should be, too.
My eight-year-old grandson called to wish me a happy birthday and the first words out of his mouth were, “Papa, when I come up to Michigan, can we play golf?” No better testimony exists to the success of my club’s decision to create a par-3 executive course on one of its three nine-hole courses. As I’ve said before (“Scorecard on the Best Idea in Golf,” C&RB, October 2015), if we are serious about attracting young golfers, Birchwood Farms Golf & Country Club in Harbor Springs, Mich., has found an answer.
That aside, let me talk about golf in the Olympics.
I am not a huge fan of the Olympics. Since 1936, they have been highly political as well as nationalistic. The modern Games were revived at the beginning of the 20th century to bring athletes together as individuals to compete and form friendships. The only reason that countries were involved was to host the event, and hopefully provide financial support.
To watch the Games today is to see cries of “USA, USA!” or the national equivalent from some other country. You will see flags raised in order of finish as the country’s national anthem plays. It is anything but a celebration of individual athleticism and good fellowship. I doubt that I will watch them.
Jordan Spieth (who made $50 million in 2015), Rory McIlroy ($48.3 million), and Jason Day ($8.8 million) did not participate in this year’s Olympics. They said it’s because of the Zika virus, but I have my doubts. If it is true, I assume they will boycott any PGA tournaments in the South where the Zika mosquito is present. I doubt it.
What we have here is (in my opinion) the simple fact that they didn’t want to play for free. They all make close to $1 million per week and the Olympics would be a distraction from their earnings. While I don’t like the Olympics, and they have every right to say it is because of the dangers of the Zika virus, if that is in fact their reason, then they are truly wimps.
Let’s compare this to what a Marine Lance Corporal makes in a year. With two years of service he or she will make a grand total of $28,972. For this they will give up a large measure of their individual freedom, they will go where they are sent—Zika mosquitoes or not—and will face real bad guys who are trying to kill them.
No one has to compete in the Olympics and they shouldn’t be forced to. I doubt golf should even be an Olympic sport, but if men’s field hockey can be (courtesy of Pakistan), then I guess golf should be, too.
But if the leading players and money-winners don’t want to play, then just say so—don’t use an excuse that thousands of other Olympic athletes will not use as they give the Games their full measure of athleticism.