By: Dave Hill WGCA contributing writer
I woke up Sunday morning, August 14th, thinking about the Olympics and the day’s events. Going to be an exciting day as the gold medal will be decided and, oh yeah, I think there’s golf. The gold medal I’m talking about is, of course, the fastest man on earth. No need to mention a name, because we all know who won. Oh yeah, who won the golf again? Wait, let me check…oh okay, it was Justin Rose…oh, and look at that, the champion golfer of the year won the silver. Who got bronze? Not sure, but me being Canadian, it was incredible and a proud moment to witness Andre DeGrasse get the bronze medal head-to-head against Usain Bolt and the bond they developed. It is clear Bolt clearly recognizes his successor.
Okay, back to the golf. Course looks alright. Wonder when the Olympics are over if anyone in Rio is going to play there? Other than soccer, it is apparent beach volleyball is the other fixture for Brazilians. Who can blame them with the spectacular beaches of Rio, warm climate and the low cost of the sport? Okay, back to the golf. Wait, it was just playing on the CBC (Canada’s national network)! Oh, okay, now they’re showing beach volleyball with boxing to follow. Cool! Is golf playing on the Golf Channel?.. no of course not; they don’t have the television rights. Oh, here we go, it’s on TSN2 (TSN is Canada’s national sports broadcaster). Wonderful; I don’t have that channel in my package. No biggie, back to the beach!
Oh, here we go, more golf… sorry it’s just an update…Rosey and Stenson are tied, but it’s early…back to the beach, followed by women’s 3-meter diving. Cool, we have a Canadian in contention for a medal! Oh, okay, now the golf is back on. Let’s check out Facebook and see what’s going on. Can probably mutli-task while watching golf. Let me see…Rob Kleabir laughing at the low medal count of team Canada compared to the U.S. in spite of the fact we have nine times less population… all in jest and good fun. Okay an interesting article on growing the game. Making it younger via dress code, cell phone/social media on course and simply being more welcoming for our youth. Some of it makes sense. Here’s an interesting comment by a young professional in Utah stating there is an influx of new young professionals employed at golf courses and developing incredible youth programs through their passion and exuberance. He’s very excited about the future growth and health of the game in his state! Et voila!
This is not the first time I’ve professed my views how golf in the Olympics will not grow the game. Let’s call a spade a spade here. Some of the best players in the world, including numbers 1 and 2, bowed out, along with Rory McIlroy, who stated how he did not grow up watching the Olympics or dream of winning gold. He dreamt of winning the Claret Jug and a green jacket. I realize he was attacked for his comments, but the truth hurts. Golf’s reintroduction into the Olympics was a big yawn-fest. I can’t speak for other countries; however, golf in Canada has one of the highest participation rates in the world, yet we showed very little of the event on our main networks. I’m not sure what this says about its appeal as an Olympic sport, but we’re a golfing nation and there was little interest. Makes one wonder how this Olympics’ version of golf will help grow the game.
Fortunately enough, the golf aired on our national network was so not awe-inspiring that it propelled me to multi-task and discover the game is doing quite well in some regions. This also made me realize the game can grow via internal measures from those employed in the industry and who are in the trenches every day, welcoming and teaching existing and new people to golf of all ages. It will take vision, effort and courage to grow the game, but as a like-minded collective group of professionals, we can accomplish this feat and regain our true status as the stewards of the game.