This is not a new subject for me, but it may be for you: Installing golf in the Olympic Games.
I opposed it when it was brought up as an addition to the 1996 Games in Atlanta. I’ll say this: That if it ever were to be, that would have been the site. Golf’s heart beats in Georgia, referring here to the Masters, to the great Robert T. Jones Jr., East Lake and Atlanta Athletic Club, the Tour Championship and a roll of honor golfers turned out by colleges in the state.
Fine. A round of applause, please.
But, golf in the Olympic Games is an imposition on the great lineup of golfing events we have already in place around the world. We have the British Open, U.S. Open, the Masters, the five World Championship events, the Ryder Cup, the President’s Cup—now striving for attention as baseball and football classics dominate the screen— the various international women’s events and the British and U.S. amateur championships.
What is it that golf in the Olympic Games can sort out? It has been tested once, many years ago in the St. Louis games, to no avail. In 1996, it was projected that the golf event would have been played at Augusta National. At that time of the year the golf course there is usually in a state of GIR—“ground under repair.” Weeds and shrubs disturb the scene. The grounds look like a pastureland. It was no place for an invasion of golfers, especially of the sub-caliber of nations where golf is no national pastime.
Yes, I know, Tiger Woods and various officials who never turn down an expense-paid jaunt to anything, especially a luxurious golf club, are chortling. What other kind of medal can Tiger wish to hang in his trophy room? That isn’t fair here, for we all know that what the Woods family has contributed to the game cannot be measured in trophies. Tiger’s interest is in the possibility of spreading the word of the game.
Next time I write of this, let me tell you about Don Panoz and the Sarazen World Open. Now THAT would have spread the game of golf around the world, and was on the way to doing so when the PGA Tour slapped it in the chops.