For one week and one week only, Olympic golf sees the game’s top professionals playing for pride rather than money. No prizes for 4th…
In the first week of August 2016, Oliver Fisher scooped €55,000 for finishing 4th in the Paul Lawrie Matchplay event, which has one of the lowest prize funds on tour. But that will still be €55,000 more than the man who finishes 4th in the second week of August, who will earn precisely nothing for his troubles.
For the return of golf to the Olympics after a 112-year absence means that while the top 3 will receive highly cherished medals rather than the usual handsome cheques for their endeavours, the vast majority who make the trip down to Brazil will walk away with nothing at the end of their week – 57 of them to be precise.
Or will they? Well, obviously as professional golfers they are used to a world in which they are rewarded financially for their golfing skill and prowess. However, many have professed over the years that it’s not the money, it’s the trophies they’re really playing for (usually the ones who already have more money than they can shake a stick at!), and I’d like to believe that plenty of them are still sometimes eager to tee it up when rewards other than money are at stake – when they’re playing for pride and pride alone.
24 European and American professionals already do it every two years in the Ryder Cup, and there was certainly a bit of a furore a few years ago when some of the Americans – Mark O’Meara to name but one – voiced concerns that they weren’t being paid in an event which raises millions of pounds every two years.
Watch this video as five stars of the game offer five different takes on the Olympics…
Thankfully, no-one is paid still (certainly not directly, anyway) in Ryder Cup week, and that is how it will be down in Rio when one man will walk away with gold, one with silver, one with bronze… and hopefully 57 others with the pride, satisfaction and honour of having represented their countries in the biggest sporting extravaganza on earth.
I would like to think so anyway, and have certainly heard enough from those who will be playing – and indeed are thrilled to be playing – to make me believe that it will be so… it’s just that much of this has been drowned out by the almost daily announcements in recent weeks that yet another high-profile name has decided not to make the trip for various reasons.
I, for one, hope that come the end of the event it will firmly be seen as their loss, while those who did embrace the event and the chance to be part of golfing history will have gained much… even if none of it can be deposited in their bank accounts.