And so, I proceed to the 19th hole
There’s word in the Daily Telegraph that the International Golf Federation and the International Olympic Committee are “considering” including a team competition, on top of the individual format, for the next Summer Games in Tokyo in 2020. Well, better late than never, I suppose; but it’s hard to understand why this wasn’t considered for Brazil in 2016.
Apparently these bodies are struggling with how to do both competitions, either separately or simultaneously. Obviously, they want the best players in the world to play in both formats, but to do that simultaneously would be next to impossible. I can’t imagine Jordan Spieth or Dustin Johnson playing 18 individual holes in the morning, then 18 with a teammate in the afternoon, for four straight days, or 18 a day over eight.
Part of the snag is that the professional Tours – namely, the PGA and the European, and the LPGA – don’t want to have to give up what would undoubtedly be three weeks of tournaments if the two competitions were held separately. Understandable, if somewhat counter to the loftier ideals of the game.
Frankly, in my view, the Olympics should try to do something bold and unique. For example, pre-Games, there could be some form of tennis-style Davis Cup competition, wherein several countries could compete against each other over 12 months for the “right” to qualify for Tokyo. Each country would be represented by its four top-ranked players.
Then at the Games, there could be playoffs between the top 16 teams, but each player would also keep his/her individual score in these matches, and the top three players would be awarded individual medals. One week for the ladies, one week for the men. Survival of the fittest, and all that.
Works for me.
While on the subject of the Olympics, I read this week that the fine golf course that was built under great duress for the Games in Rio is in imminent danger of being abandoned and left to die. Less than 40 people a day are visiting the course, the physical facilities are almost non-existent or empty, and the private company that has the contract to manage the course hasn’t been paid for weeks and is about to give up, apparently.
One unnamed source in the article I saw predicted that the course would be irretrievably lost within three to four weeks without maintenance.
What a pathetic joke. But just another in a long line of ridiculously expensive building and development projects undertaken in so many cities, in the name of “international competition” that comes and goes in two weeks. It would be a shame if this course was let go, but the bigger shame is that it was built for Rio in the first place… an impoverished city in a country of 200 million people where, I suspect, less than 1,000 play the game. Why the IOC sanctioned golf for those Games, as opposed to waiting till 2020 and doing it right, is beyond me.
But then, the older I get, the more I find that so many things are just… beyond me.
Some of you may have noticed that the CEO of Golf Canada, Scott Simmons, announced his resignation last week, although he will stay for a few months to help in the transition to a new leader. (That, by the way, suggests to me that he wasn’t pushed, as many will speculate, and that he will leave with his head held high.)
And his head should be held high. I think Scott has done a very fine job in a very difficult, easily criticized position, in an era where managing our national golf organization has been fraught with higher costs, shrinking public participation and dwindling corporate support. Yes, Golf Canada has run up some major annual deficits, but it’s not as if it was done while Scott and the Directors were jetting off to inspect golf courses around the world. In fact, Scott is leaving just as Golf Canada is about to announce a financial surplus for 2016, and with corporate sponsorships secured for both men’s and women’s Opens for the next few years. That’s pretty darn good.
I don’t know Scott well, but I think he’s an honourable person who’s done an admirable job in tough conditions, and he deserves the thanks and respect of golfers everywhere in this country.
And in that happy vein, my friends, I thought I’d sign off by letting you know that I’m going to take a powder for a few months. No more waking up in a cold sweat on Monday mornings and wondering, “what the HELL am I going to write about this week??!”
At least, not until sometime in March, when the pro golf season starts to get more interesting and our own golf season is just around the corner.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, or the equivalent joy in whatever celebration you observe, and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.
In the meantime, I’ll see you at the simulator!