Posted Oct 14 2009, 09:27 AM by Cathy Erickson
We've been hearing about the potential reinstatement of golf in the Summer Olympics for quite some time now. The Who's Who of the golf world made their case to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and their voices were heard! Last week golf was voted into the Olympics beginning in 2016.
Since hearing of the campaign, I've been a supporter of adding golf back into the Olympics because I believed it could only help grow the sport. Being from Minnesota, and also being a curler, I saw firsthand what great exposure Curling received when it was added to the winter Olympics several years ago. NBC has broadcast matches and we've even seen it on the Today Show! I realize golf is far more popular than curling, but if the additional spotlight on the sport can make more people interested or inspire them to improve, bring it on!
I'll admit I'm not a huge follower of the Olympics, but I have been inspired and impacted by many stories of triumph and overcoming challenges that have come out of the games. The journeys that some participants take to make it to the highest level of competition may be what motivate others to start their own journeys - even if that journey doesn't have anything to do with the Olympics.
It got me thinking...how fantastic would it be to learn about the journey of some golfer who had dreamed of making it to the Olympics and there they were representing their country at the games in South America! What if it were me? Maybe it's my journey that starts now!
After the announcement came out about golf, I went and did a little searching on the internet to find out how exactly the golf format would play out. How will participants be decided? How many countries will be there? Where do I start training??!!
There are currently 205 countries that have National Olympic Committees. Those countries are eligible to submit participants into the games and sports where they qualify. At the 2008 summer games there were over 10,000 participants from 204 countries participating in 26 different sports. It seems to me there could be some great potential for global representation on the golf course!
A bit more reading, articles by the Associated Press, and information on http://www.pgatour.com/, and I discovered that the road to the first tee at the Olympics is about as accessible as a free ride on Air Force One. It is being proposed that 60 men and 60 women will participate in golf. I don't know, I was thinking there might be more - I mean, there's often 128 players in the field at a regular Tour event, so why not at the Olympics? How about giving the Olympic dream to a few more players?
The eligibility will be determined by the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) - which means you must be a member of a Professional Tour in order to be on the OWGR. I certainly understand that we want our best athletes representing us at the Games, but now that I think about it, aren't we just making another Tour event for professionals? Where's the journey? Where's the small town club pro who works his way for a chance to step on the Olympic stage?
Here's how they are proposing to define eligibility...the Top 15 on the World Ranking automatically get to play (as of some specific date). As of today, 6 Americans are in the Top 15, so all of them will get to play. The remaining 45 spots would be determined by OWGR rankings and would be limited to 2 people per country if the country doesn't already have at least 2 people coming out of the Top 15. So if an American is number 16 in the world, sorry, you're out.
The folks at http://www.pgatour.com/ did a list of who would be playing today based on the current world rankings and 31 countries would be represented. Huh, so much for being truly global - only 15% of all eligible countries would have a participant teeing it up. Of course this is all just recommendations at this point, but it sounds pretty certain that only professional golfers who have a world ranking status will be heading to the Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
So after my initial excitement for golf being one of the newest Olympic sports, I'm a little disappointed after learning more about it. Don't get me wrong, I still think it's great for golf as a sport, but I'm sad that what I have perceived as "the Olympic dream" won't ever really apply to golf.
After suiting up in long underwear and all weather gloves yesterday to play in 38 degree weather, I realized that I can put my goal of qualifying for the 2016 Olympics back on the shelf. It was fun to dream though. My new goal is to golf as much as I can until curling season starts!
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Filed under: 2016, Global, Olympics, dream, OWGR, Curling, Golf, IOC
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