So professional golf is in the Olympic Games, and we are all supposed to applaud. Well, you can if you like, but don’t expect me to. I don’t agree with the move and I never have. I’m sure there will be herds of golf fans screaming as they read these words, but give me a break. If golf wasn’t in the Olympics and it was never considered for inclusion, would you be losing any sleep? I doubt it.
Many people have been quoted as saying that ‘golf does not need the Olympics, and the Olympics does not need golf’. How true. The superpowers of our game will point to how the Games can take golf into all corners of the world; how the Games’ global reach can act as another branch for growth and better financing.
What a joke! Golf’s saturated TV coverage and endless revenue streams are already growing the game all over the shop. Wherever you look there is another tournament sprouting up in some land far, far away. Every week, 12 months a year, the conveyor belt of international golf roles on and on. Don’t get me wrong, as a man who plies his trade in the media I am more than grateful, but we shouldn’t feel sorry for ourselves.
You have to ask, does the International Olympic Committee want golf, or do they want golf’s superstars? The latter I expect. The Games have always been for amateurs, and in my opinion that is the way it should stay. Everyone seems to be on the take. And it’s not just golf: tennis should not be in the Olympics, nor should football. What manager in his right mind would let his star players – on £150,000 a week, at the club’s expense – go and get hacked down by some hero-hunting show pony?
People need to wake up here. What’s more important to the international footballer next summer? Winning the European Championship or a Gold medal in London. There’s simply no debate. And it’s the same, even more so, for golfers. The Masters, US Open, Open Championship and USPGA, followed by the WGC events – taking part in the Olympics will come way down the pecking order, and for a professional golfer, that’s the way it should be. For an amateur sportsman, however, the Olympic Games should be their Everest.
There have been a lot of positive noises coming from the players following the Olympic decision, but it will be interesting to see which players actually turn up. For starters, where are they all going to park their aeroplanes? Oh that’s right they are all going to fly cattle class with the other Olympians. As if!
I wonder if the powers that be from the Games have had their invoice from Tiger Woods yet? If they think they’re going to get his services for free, they should think again. If you’re making a fortune chaps, then Tiger will want a slice of the action. And what format are we going to play? Is it going to be foursomes, greensomes, lonesomes? Who knows? There are just too many questions…
We have been a professional outfit for way too long and that is the way we like it. Golf is a powerhouse sport, and that’s what we all love to watch and why we all love to play it. What difference will it make to see Tiger Woods up against Rory McIlroy in Rio. We see it every week on our television sets. No, the Olympics of golf is behind the red button for me.
The beauty of the Games has always been its close bond with amateur athletes – that’s the way it should stay. The sporting minnows who work damn hard just to take part – this is their moment. If golf is to have its Rio carnival in 2016, then we should at least look after our future stars. Let the amateurs have their day in the sun; let it be their Major, with the chance to win that big gold ball-marker.