In 2016, the sport of Golf will return to the Olympic Games, after a long absence of over 100 years. In fact, you have to go back to 1904, to find the last time golf was played at the Olympics. It will certainly be a big moment in the history of the sport, when it returns to the games at Rio this year.
A total of 60 players will play in the event, on both the men’s and women’s side. The format will be the same for both, as they compete in a 72 hole individual stroke play tournament, representing their country. World rankings will be used in determining who has the opportunity to play at the 2016 Olympic Games.
On the face of it, this seems like a massive opportunity for professional golfers, to do something which no other golfer alive today has been able to do and that’s win Olympic gold. A new course has been designed and created in Rio especially for the event. But there is little about Brazil which stands out, when you think about golf. The course is set to be tested, behind closed doors on 8th March but the planned exhibition will not go ahead, as the top PGA Tour players have other matters on their agenda.
The fact top players have not taken up the opportunity to participate in an exhibition, perhaps highlights where their priorities are this year. Even though 2016 is an Olympic year, the four golf majors will still remain the main goal for the majority of players at the top of the sport. Not only that but for the very best players in America and Europe, there is the small matter of the Ryder Cup this year, which is a huge event for these players.
Rickie Fowler, who has enjoyed a good start to the 2016 season, has already stated he would prefer to win his first major title, rather than an Olympic gold medal. Australian, Adam Scott, has also commented on how he is not really interested in the event. However, for other players, further down the world rankings, who will be representing countries such as Finland for example, this will be a chance to showcase their talent to the sporting world. What a chance for golfers to shine, who despite being professional, will never win a major or play in the Ryder Cup.
The 2016 Olympic Games golf tournament, is something of an unknown. Despite receiving criticism from some players and being dismissed as unimportant by others, as soon as the event starts, they may well change their mind. When an Olympic gold medal is within reach and the players are closing in on the final holes of the tournament, will any of them, whoever they are, say they do not care? No, they will be in it to win it.