The summer of 2016 will prove to be an epic time for golf, as the sport returns the Olympics for the first time since 1904. Countries from across the globe will compete for the gold on the newly designed golf courses in Rio de Janeiro. This is a big win for golf associations and enthusiasts around the world, as the sport will now be elevated to the pinnacle of athletic achievement—the Olympics.
Due to the globalization of golf throughout the last century, Olympic committees would have been remiss not to include the sport in the in future games. The very ethos of golf is in line with the Olympic brand: respect for the rules, respect for other players, and respect for the game itself. The Olympics could arguably be described as the greatest sporting event of the world, and the addition of golf will truly add to the sport’s competitive ecosystem.
Sixty golfers will qualify for the event and be able to play on a course created by the legendary course designer Gil Hanse. The site itself has been under criticism, as as it was built upon an abandoned nature reserve. Despite the controversy, Hanse and his team have assured the public that the course construction took many environmental factors into consideration. Hanse also indicates the Olympic course will provide optimum playability and adequate challenges for the players.
Additional criticism can be heard around the format: individuals competing in a 72 hole stroke play. This mode of play is identical to every other golf tournament and can be seen as unimaginative. The spirit of the Olympics is having teams compete or players face off against one another in a once-in-a-lifetime situation. However, the proposed format will be familiar to all who watch the PGA or the Masters.
The hope, of course, is that golf’s reputation will be enhanced and generations of potential players will be inspired and encouraged to play. Will we see golf’s popularity grow as a result of this global platform? All we know for sure is that the result of the reach will be enormous.