State of the game: Golf goes for the gold

By Arnold PalmerAugust 8, 2016, 4:30 pm

In September I will turn 87 years old. For most of that time — at least 84 years — sport has played an outsized role in my life.  Obviously, golf has provided the foundation for my career, but in addition to being an athlete I’m also a fan. Like many of you I have dogged affection for my favorite teams, whether it be the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. That said, there is no team I pull for more avidly than the Home Team: Team USA. So I’m doubly excited and interested as we approach the historic and long-awaited return of golf to the Olympics. I’ll be rooting for America, but pulling for the sport of golf.

As a kid growing up in Latrobe, Pa., I could dream about being an Olympian like Jesse Owens or Johnny Weissmuller. I could also dream about being a great golfer like Bobby Jones or Byron Nelson. But the idea of being an Olympic golfer never occurred to me. The notion of golf in the Olympics — something that last happened a quarter-century before I was born — was completely alien. But that all changed in 2009 when the International Olympic Committee voted to again include golf on the Olympics slate.

I know that a few of the game’s brightest young stars will not be participating in Rio, and that’s too bad. However, now that the Olympic flame is lit, the focus of a massive global audience will be on the players that have chosen our sport to pursue their Olympic dream.  Inevitably, there will be compelling performances from high-profile veterans as well as previously unheralded young players who have taken up the game in developing countries. 


Golf in the Rio Olympic Games: Articles, photos and videos

Photo gallery: Arnold Palmer through the years


Golf’s four major championships have long been viewed as our sport’s ultimate melting pots, championships of the golfing world. But Olympic golf will be even more international. This year the men’s four major championships hosted players from a total of 30 countries; the four women’s majors contested, so far, have included players from 34 countries. But this month, the fields in the men’s and women’s golf competitions at the Olympics will feature golfers from 41 different countries.

Will many of you be watching and rooting for the Americans during the Olympic competition? You bet, and so will I. So imagine the billions of people — particularly sports-crazed kids — in places like India, Bangladesh, Brazil, China and Malaysia watching their own countrymen and women competing and (I expect) contending on the greatest stage in sports. The global interest that spotlight will spur is incalculable.  I suspect that only months after Rio, soaring grassroots interest in golf will combine with better funding from medal-hungry governments to launch our sport into a truly global, truly gilded future. In fact, we’re already seeing increased support. Since 2009, when golf was voted onto the Olympic slate, the number of national organizations supporting golf in their home countries has grown from 116 to 145. Imagine where that number could go.

I am a sentimental guy and occasionally that lump in my throat when I speak has stopped my tongue from working. You know I have played golf many times in competition when I have stood to attention as “The Star Spangled Banner” was played – Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup – as part of the opening ceremonies. However, I don’t recall ever having the national anthem played because of my performance. The winners at the Olympics step up, bursting with pride, because everything that they have worked for and all their dedication is rewarded in a climax that I, and most golfers, will never experience. Representing their countries, they will listen to the music, stare at their flag, wear a medal with millions of people watching around the world, and know that this moment in time is all about them and what they have achieved.

This month, for the first time in 112 years, golf stands heroically alongside the marathon and the decathlon on a 21st-century digital stage that spans from a television in South Carolina to a hand-held phone in the South China Sea. This is the game in full bloom and living color with all the pomp and pageantry sport can muster. As of today a kid growing up in western Pennsylvania or eastern Portugal can dream of being an Olympic golfer. This is golf in the Olympics. And that, alone, is pure gold.


On GolfChannel.com, Arnold Palmer periodically shares his opinions about issues affecting the game of golf through his column, “Arnold Palmer’s State of the Game.”

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

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.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


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.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

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.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.