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Home THE QUICK FIX? NOT SO FAST!

There are some that believe golf’s inclusion into the Olympics will provide a much-needed lift to the sagging golf industry. However, it isn’t a consensus opinion. “I'm yet to be convinced and this is Ted Bishop's opinion, okay, not The PGA of America's. But I'm yet to be convinced that golf in the Olympics in 2016 is going to do a lot to enhance and promote the game in this country,” said the current PGA of America President. “I think at the end of the year, when you look at what it's going to do to disrupt the schedule of the major championships, how it's going to effect the events that people in this country are really the most interested in, golf in the Summer Olympics is always going to fall during a Ryder Cup year; it's going to present some logistical problems. I think it's really up for debate, how interesting is the format going to be, how much different is it going to be than a World Golf Championships. So I think there's a lot of questions that are yet to be answered, and I don't know. That's strictly my opinion.”

“I agree with Ted in one respect: I think in terms of growth of the game in the United States, you probably are not going to find much,” said David Fay, former Executive Director of the USGA. “But just look to a sport like tennis, where it was an exhibition sport in '84 and then it went on the program in '88, and look what happened when certain countries who really aspire to have a lot of medals, the former Soviet Union, they developed all these great players,” he countered. “I think you're going to see, the Olympics will really trigger international growth, because those countries that want Olympic medals will invest in sports where they can get Olympic medals. On the format, I agree, I think you need to get stroke play. You could get a lot of the better players not showing up for a match-play event. But the Olympics are all about containing the number of athletes. You could have 54-hole stroke play for men and women, all right. And then you get medals in stroke-play, and then you could have just the low four, just the low four; and then move on and play match play, and you could then have both match play and stroke play, and you could have it all done in five days.” 

For anyone in the developed countries for the game, it would seem the inclusion in the Rio Games is a moot point. For vendors of the game, such as equipment companies, it might be something on the horizon. Then again perhaps not! “Golf should be in the Olympics. Why shouldn't it be?” said Mark King, CEO of TaylorMade adidas Golf. “What I do know is we have offices in 50 countries around the world because of our parent company, adidas. The top eight countries, and I could list them on 1 1/2 hands; does 90 percent of our revenue. If a country doesn't have a middle class, there will be no development of golf. I don't care how many Olympics you have. You could have Olympics every month; doesn't make any difference. 

“I don't think it will have much impact on the business. I don't think it will have much impact on the growth of golf, because when you go to Thailand, there is no infrastructure for golf. There are no plans for infrastructure and there won't be after 2016. They are worried about eating and clothing and shelter, and it's just not realistic. The infrastructure to build golf is way too big. It's barely gotten any traction in China. Yeah, we highlight Mission Hills, but Mission Hills is a once-in-a-world opportunity. There is no movement in China to have golf grow. I'd much rather focus on, how do we get people in countries that play golf to start playing golf again. And if the Olympics help that, great, but I don't see how that helps.

“I think the Olympics and maybe it's not too late, is a great opportunity to tell the world that golf can be cool. I think we should be wearing shorts. I think we should have uniforms. I think we should do something that when you saw the competition, you would think, that's a cool competition, and I don't know what the format is going to be, I don't know what the dress code is going to be, but I would hope that we could do something that would make it cool.”