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  • Alistair Tait

Why Golf Belongs In The Olympics

Former colleague Beth Ann Nichols poses an interesting question regarding golf in the Olympic Games:

Can’t imagine there are still people out there who don’t think golf belongs in the Olympics?”

You can bet Nelly Korda believes golf belongs in the Olympic family. She’s just won a gold medal and is having a hard time believing it:

“It’s crazy. It sounds absurd that I’m a gold medallist and I’m an Olympian… I don’t know, it hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Wonder if Korda’s experience will be similar to Justin Rose’s. The Englishman is on record as saying friends are more interested in seeing his gold medal from the 2016 Games than they are his medal for winning the 2013 U.S. Open. Korda won her first major this year, the Women's PGA Championship. China's Shanshan Feng has also won the (2012) Women's PGA, yet her bronze in the 2016 Games made more of an impression in her country than that major victory.

Yes, a bronze medal!

I’d love to believe Nichols’ statement to be true but, as always, there will be those who STILL don’t think golf should be in the Games. I’m guessing those sceptics will be mostly from traditional golfing nations where the major championships are the be all and end all of success in this game.

I’m obviously not trying to rubbish the majors. They are the measure of a player’s standing in global golf, at least to those of us from traditional golfing nations. However, don’t underestimate the importance of an Olympic medal to countries with no real tradition of this game. Olympic medals mean far more in many nations around the world than major victories, whether we like it or not. All you have to do is follow the commentary on twitter to see how much the performance of Aditi Ashok (pictured) in these Games had on millions in India who followed her every shot as she pursued a podium place.

"I didn't leave anything out there, I think I gave it my hundred percent, but, yeah, fourth at an Olympics where they give out three medals kind of sucks," Ashok said.

Maybe, but rest assured she will have inspired millions of young Indian girls to take up the game, perhaps in the same way Se Ri Pak started the Korean revolution. You know you’ve made an impression when the president of India sends you a message just for placing fourth.

Yes, winning a major would have created a stir in her home country, but perhaps not as much as an Olympic medal.

Anirban Lahiri, who played in the 2016 Rio Games, was in no doubt about what Ashok’s performance could do for growing the game in India. He tweeted:

Or how about this image Simi Mehra tweeted?

Mehra is an important figure in Indian women’s golf. She was the first player from her country to play on the LPGA Tour.

Ashok may have missed out this time, but she will have inspired millions in her homeland. Ditto for other competitors from countries with no real sense of golf history. That’s why golf belongs in the Olympic Games.

#JustSaying: “India needs to start building more courses and have an infrastructure for the game and then hopefully they will be off to the races. They (Indian people) do play a lot of ball sports here like hockey and cricket and tennis and so the ball sense is there for youngsters. For them to pick up golf it might be easier than it is for youngsters in other countries.” Ernie Els in 2008


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