Bring the World’s Best
An obvious point, but one that bears repeating.
After the Olympic golf tournament’s first day in Rio, the scoreboard leader was Australian Marcus Fraser with a round of 63, ranked 90th in the world and only in Brazil because Oz’s top players had pulled out.
At that point, a bead of sweat must have appeared on the brow of everyone involved with getting golf back in the Olympics after 112 years, fearing the competition would be a crushing disappointment.
Thankfully, the drama mounted steadily and crescendoed with a nail-biting duel between Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and Team GB’s Justin Rose, ranked fourth and ninth in the world respectively – the Englishman ultimately emerging beaming and triumphant.
With the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and without a mosquito in sight, every golfer worth their salt should be clamouring to go. As world number two Jordan Spieth agreed, it “will be a goal to represent [USA] in 2020.” With all of the globe’s best players competing, the quality and drama can only skyrocket further.
Tweak the Format
Despite Justin Rose’s assertion that 72 holes of stroke play is still “the best way to determine an individual winner”, the biggest collective agreement emanating from the event’s aftermath is that a more imaginative format is needed going forward. If swimming can have 102 medals on offer, golf can certainly manage more than six.
A team format, perhaps, would create an even bigger sense of drama. Two-player teams have been mooted, with an aggregate total that would also allow competition for individual medal honours. It could even stretch to a four-ball matchplay team effort with some imaginative scheduling.
Most importantly, the teams should be mixed, drawing Olympic Golf away from the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup separated-gender format and into a collective competition that embraces the team and national demographic that the Games embody so strongly. Now that would be an imagination and attention-capturing move.
Keep the Pricing Low
Q: Justin Rose, what would you say to those deciding about golf being at the next Olympics?
A: “I would just ask them, were you in Rio on Sunday?”
With so much concern about attendance across the Games elsewhere, golf rose like a phoenix from the ashes of predicted negativity and apathy to light up Rio. Thanks to the rare common sense of allowing the vast majority of golf tickets to be listed in the very lowest price bracket, crowds flocked to the Campo Olimpico de Golfe in droves for the tournament. “It was jam-packed” Rose purred.
The weekend’s play culminated in a blaze of excitement, helped along by a 15,000 capacity sell out crowd on the final day. Validation for the format and, one hopes, the sensible pricing for a sport vastly enhanced by atmospheric spectators.
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