Golf an Olympic sport?

Against, the great Dom Joly;

I find it hard to understand why golf is going to get in. When I was at the Olympics in Beijing I spent ages trying to work out why some events felt like they belonged in the Olympics while others didn't.

All the athletics felt decidedly Olympian as did the swimming and things like the fencing and gymnastics. Others, however, felt completely wrong. Tennis, for instance, was decidedly un-Olympian, as was football. I couldn't work out why until I shared a taxi to a BBC studio with Steve Backley, the javelin thrower (there's almost nothing more Olympian than the javelin and the discus, especially if done by naked, oiled -up Greeks).

I asked Backley what the criteria should be and he had the perfect answer. "If being at the Olympics is not the pinnacle of your sport then you shouldn't be there." I tried to apply this theory to every event I saw from then on, and it worked. With sports like football and tennis, it was clear that World Cups and Grand Slams far exceeded the prestige of the Olympics and that competitors were there just for the novelty of trying to get an Olympic medal for their trophy cabinet.

For other sports, however, the Olympics were clearly a one-off opportunity to step up to the attention of a global audience – canoeing, archery, air-pistol shooting... none of these have massive global followings and the Olympics are perfect for them to have one stab at glory.

I started to realise the Olympics are actually a kind of charity event for a lot of "small" sports that, on their own, are not exciting enough to hold your attention for long. As far as I'm concerned, there is already way too much golf going on and there is no way that it should be in the Olympics.

Rugby Sevens, however, is a different proposition. At first I wondered why they hadn't gone for rugby itself. Then I remembered that there were only about five countries that could play the game to a decent level. The joy of Sevens is that it's a random game that encourages all sorts of tiny Micronesian islands to have a go. This is what the Olympics are about – an opportunity for Fiji and Vanuatu to have a good crack at something. Personally, I'd prefer to see five-a side-football in the Olympics as opposed to the "proper" version. In fact, why not go the whole hog and bring in a lot of stripped-down events? Actually, forget five-a-side, that's way too mainstream – how about table-football... or Subbuteo? Why is croquet not recognised as an Olympic sport? If the "proper" version is considered too restrictive we could come up with an easier version called something like "total croquet" in which competitors take part in a "no rules" version where mallets are used for both the game and sorting out any disputes.

What about crazy golf? It's an awesome spectator sport and played all over the world. Sometimes, if you're on fire and really playing out of your skin you can get a crowd of three, maybe four people watching you on the seafront in Minehead and only two will be very drunk. Children all over the world grow up learning how to make the best "bomb" when they jump into water. Do we ever harness this talent? Do we ever have events that allow them to show off this skill? No, we don't and this is a crime and needs to be thought about in the next Olympic sport selection meeting.

For, the not so great Peter Dawson - big chief at R&A;

We are an inclusive sport, he insisted. Golf is enjoyed by 60 million people, young and old, in every part of the world.

I'm aware that golf has a reputation for having men only clubs. But the number of single sex clubs is currently less than half of one percent and that number is falling rapidly.

Our sport is closely aligned to the values and ethos of Olympism. Your beliefs in sportsmanship, honour, integrity, excellence and fair play are also close to our hearts.

These are important lessons to youth.

Dawson also insisted the world's top players had committed to compete at the Olympics, after one IOC member sought assurances that Woods would compete in 2016.

So that's one vote for crazy golf and one vote for Tiger Woods.
Golf Refugees are with Dom Joly on this one. Golf is not an Olympic sport. Peter Dawson forgot to mention that one of the minority private 'men only' clubs just happens to be The Royal & Ancient Golf Club. Who are a governing body and supposed to represent the 'inclusive' sport of golf without allowing any women members.

Watching Tiger Woods pic up an Olympic gold medal for golf would be like watching Simon Cowell win an award for modesty.


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