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On the surface golf was successful by gaining admittance into the 2016 Olympic games. But does the fact that after an absence of more than a century its mere presence insures it will prompt a boom to participation rates worldwide? The powers that be, which were responsible for its inclusion, certainly believe so. However it remains to be seen whether the game will be embraced in a manner that some are now projecting. “I think we are going to see a huge upsurge in golf activity in these next five or six years as people take advantage of golf being in the Olympics from a growth standpoint,” PGA Tour Commissioner, Tim Finchem stated. Only time will tell whether this will in fact be the case. Golf was accepted along with and rugby sevens, a sport which its worth noting, is largely not adopted in the US and barely received any coverage of its inclusion. Golf is hoping that many emerging countries will suddenly become hooked on the game. But for every Sweden or Australia where golf is popular there are many other countries where it hasn’t reached the same level of enthusiasm for a variety of reasons. So without attempting to rain on golf’s parade, the industry would be wise to work together to help promote it to underdeveloped countries rather than expect its inclusion in the 2016 Games is more than enough. For now its safe to say those who might have an interest in golf based on this news, whether they live in Uzbekistan or Beijing are not inclined to pay $40 for a dozen golf balls, $700+ for a set of irons, another $3-$400 for a driver before discovering how difficult and frustrating the game can be. Then there is the case of accessibility. Clearly infrastructure is going to be the first challenge in these geographical locations that won’t be overcome before the euphoria of the news wears off.
The format for the Rio de Janeiro Games is anticipated to be 72-hole individual stroke play for both men and women. It has been proposed that there would be a field of 60 for each. It remains to be seen how many players the US and other “golf” countries will qualify. In the meantime, don’t be surprised if there is a reincarnation of a version of the Jamaican bobsled team in golf, which would question the quality if not integrity of the field for the Olympic games. Meanwhile seven years is a long time and typically honeymoons are much shorter in duration. Just ask Greg Norman...