Alan Hubbard

While I do not totally endorse Mark Twain’s philosophy that golf is a good walk spoiled, it is not particularly high on my list of favourite sports, largely because I am no damn good at it.

Which is why when we learned it was being re-introduced into the Olympic Games my reaction was one of indifference, coupled with the certain belief that it would end up in bunker.

Now, with the first Olympic "Open" looming in Rio I am more than ever convinced that I am right.

Very few of the world’s leading players will be seen on the first tee at the newly-constructed Olympic golf course, not least Rory McIlroy who says he may not even be bothered to watch the tournament on TV, preferring “the stuff that matters.” By that he added he meant such as “track and field, swimming, diving.”

Throw in boxing, gymnastics,rowing,  bit of cycling and maybe tennis now that Andy Murray inn full thrall  and I suspect there are many out there who will not agree with him.

Rory McIlroy's criticism of golf being in the Olympic Games has the left the sport in a bunker ©Getty Images
Rory McIlroy's criticism of golf being in the Olympic Games has the left the sport in a bunker ©Getty Images

The fact is, the Olympics doesn’t need golf; nor does golf need the Olympics.

Before McIlroy’s hole-in-one  shot condemning  the event this week in a manner which has shocked the game’s Establishment, it was becoming clear that golf was an irrelevance as far as Rio 2016 was concerned-  as I suggest it will be in all future Games if it survives to make the cut.

The suspicion is that it is only there because of the lobbying of US television network NBC, the International Olympic Committee (IOC)'’s principal paymasters; thus joining a schedule that is already overcrowded and beginning to look more than a gad unwieldy.

Any hope that the Olympic tournament could be regarded as the fifth major is nonsensical.

The marquee names just won’t be interested. There is no money in it.

And unless the IOC decide that along with the traditional gold medal and floral garland, an envelope with a hefty cheque inside it will be handed to the winners, it will ever be thus. 

Unless, of course, shock horror, the IOC decide to go the way of  all sporting flesh and bring in prize money!

The cynic in me even suspects this might happen eventually after the way  the Games have gone over the past couple of decades. Plus the introduction of an Olympic Grand Prix for Formula 1 motor racing.

But I digress. Back to golf’s current dilemma.

This year there will be no Jason Day, no Jordan Spieth, no Rory McIlroy and no Dustin Johnson - the world's top four players - when the Games begin in less than a month's time.

It means the blurb on the official Rio 2016 website - "the lure of a gold medal is sure to attract the sport's biggest names " - is both out of date and embarrassing.

The Zika virus is a convenient excuse and it seems some golfers have made more of seeing this as a way out of being in Rio than those in most other sports.

Australia's Adam Scott has been honest in admitting that playing at the the Olympics is of little interest to him ©Getty Images
Australia's Adam Scott has been honest in admitting that playing at the the Olympics is of little interest to him ©Getty Images

Australian Adam Scott will not be at Rio 2016, but the 2013 Masters winner says it is because the Olympics is not as important as other events in the golfing calendar. Indeed, back in 2015 he said the Olympics was "nothing I've ever aspired to do and I don't think I ever will".

He added: "It's all about the four majors and I think that's the way it should stay for golf.”


When giving golf a mandate for the first time in 112 years surely the IOC should have insisted that it would be for amateurs only - the players who would genuinely appreciate Olympic glory.

It would also have given the tournament some relevance.

In amateur golf, an Olympic gold medal would be the pinnacle- just as it is for boxers who have not joined the professional ranks.

But as we know, in their infinite wisdom the IOC have stupidly endorsed the introduction of pro pugs. Not that any have rushed to take up the opportunity to qualify, thank goodness. 

When re-admitting golf to the five-ringed circus I wonder if the IOC had really thought it through.

Did they really want another sport of this magnitude and administrative complexity cluttering up the calendar?

Especially one which does not carry anything like the clout and cachet of the majors? Or pay too much heed to drugs testing?

Interestingly, golf’s re-appearance comes alongside that of the debut of rugby sevens.

Sevens, of course, is the mini-version of the sport, which the IOC can more easily assimilate, whereas golf gets the Full Monty.

So here’s a thought. Golf in the Olympics is crazy. But if the IOC insist on having it, why not just crazy golf...?