Golfs Olympic Time Has Come
During the first week of the Athens games, I was at the home of noted golf course landscape painter Linda Hartough. As our crew set up for an interview with Linda, we watched an equestrian event on the large screen TV in her studio. It was the longer course, the one that takes about ten minutes to ride. The horse and rider negotiate a series of jumps, trying to finish in the best time while maintaining the rhythm necessary for the horse to perform properly.
Kudos to our friends at NBC, who placed cameras and followed the action in a way that best showed the beauty of the horses and the fluidity of the action. The scenery was excellent. The colors were vibrant. The mood was energetic. It was just likejust like
Yes, a few minutes of athletic beauty had me thinking about the most beautiful game, and how it would play in the Olympics. Is there perhaps some virtue in the modern Olympian ideal that would trump my objections to the mountainous marketing hype, the abandonment of the amateur ideal, and the doping scandals that seem to sully the whole affair?
Golf in the Olympics could grow the game worldwide, particularly in those countries where its just getting a foothold, said David Fay, who knows whereof he speaks. As if being executive director of the U.S. Golf Association werent enough, Fay is also co-secretary general of the International Golf Federation, formerly known as the World Amateur Golf Council. (Peter Dawson, secretary of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, is Fays counterpart in this effort.)
You get a country such as Croatia, or some of the Asian countries, and even Russia, Fay said. They dont have the infrastructure, so you kind of need to prime the pump a bit to get facilities, instructors, and everything you need. You talk to any of these people, and theyll tell you that in order to get the attention of their [countrys] Olympic committees, having the sport as an Olympic medal sport makes a huge difference.
It stands to reason. Little girls around the world will flock to gymnastics programs after Carly Pattersons performance last week. If some of them stick, gymnastics will be a healthier sport, just as it was after Cathy Rigby, Olga Korbut and Mary Lou Retton attracted the last generation of girls.
Also, theres history. Golf was part of the Games in 1900 in Paris (Margaret Abbott, the first female Olympian to win a gold medal in any sport, prevailed) and in 1904 in St. Louis. Golf got pulled off the 1908 program in London because of a lack of entries, but it returned as an exhibition sport in 1936 in Berlin.
Would Tiger Woodsor Vijay Singh, or Meg Mallon, or Annika Sorenstam standing on a medal podium for the presentation do any less? Probably not, especially since there is no current opportunity for golfers to represent their countries as individuals.
Some pros have said that there are enough international competitions on the schedule now. To them, Fay says dont worry; theres plenty of time to clear out your calendar between now and 2012.
Thats the realistic earliest Olympiad that could support golf. Beijing, the 2008 host city, has facilities for a 72-hole stroke play event of the kind the IGF contemplates. But the International Olympic Committee is looking to keep the number of athletes manageable, even if it means dropping sports. (Baseball is rumored to be in trouble, for example.)
Some sports that may be on the chopping block are already quietly bad-mouthing their competition, Fay says. But golfs big advantage compared to some is that theres no stadium to build. Just toss up some ropes and scoreboards at the host course, and tee it up. (And if London or New York, the leading candidate cities for 2012, wins the Games, think of the golf course opportunities: Sunningdale there, Winged Foot here.)
The loss of the amateur ideal is just something people like me will have to get used to, thanks to the IOCs insistence on getting the best athletes, whether they are paid or not. The doping matter may not even be a problem, given the fact that you really cant improve golf performance through drugs: It may be the un-dopable sport. In that sense, the Olympics wouldnt sully golf so much as golf would ennoble the Olympics.
The most important thing, Fay says, is to take the long view, and not necessarily a solely American view. The growth of golf around the world is the most important thing.
Of course, golf wont be as compelling as the traditional marquee events, such as track and field and swimming, Fay said. But for the national federations looking to jump-start golf in their countries, it could be wonderful.
And a 15-footer for the gold as millions around the world watch and get hooked on the game? That could be poetry in motion.
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.
Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”
The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.
“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia
This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.
Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.
The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.
A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.
And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18
Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf
Well, this is a one new one.
According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:
“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”
Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.
“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.
The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.
“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”
The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.
Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.
Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.