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The return of golf to the Olympic games for the first time in more than a century was supposed to be a boon to the game. A way to grow the sport amongst a younger generation worldwide with the help of heavyweights like Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and Rory McIlroy. But as the Olympic games drew closer and the rumors about Zika and violence in Rio spread, top players began withdrawing.
McIlroy went on record saying that it wasn’t his job to try and grow the game. Spieth told reporters after withdrawing that he simply didn’t have time because of several big time tour events coming up. I can’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to go to Rio for the games. And my guess is there aren’t going to be a lot of people tuning in for the golf coverage during the Olympics. But to put the blame on the best players in the world for not being able to make the game popular amongst millennials is totally uncalled for.
Golf is a boring sport to watch on TV if you’re not someone who plays. No matter your age. It’s perfect napping television. And unless you put a club in your kids hands at a young age they aren’t going to want to sit around and watch four hours of golf coverage on a Sunday. These guys are withdrawing because they don’t want to get their heads chopped off by some cartel or catch a disease that is very real and very life threatening.
Experts are divided regarding the long-term vitality of the $70 billion golf industry. Overall participation has stayed flat at about 25 million Americans annually over the last five years, down from a peak of about 30 million players during Tiger Woods’ heyday. But golf participation among younger generations has fallen by up to 30% of the last 20 years, according to the Financial Times.
Greg Norman called the hesitation of the world’s best golfers to go to Rio “a black eye” for the game. But I can’t for the life of me understand how this is a bad thing for me as a casual golfer. Ask anyone who doesn’t belong to a country club what their biggest gripe is in regards to playing public courses. Nine times out of ten I bet it’s going to be about pace of play and the number of people on the course.
If anything, I want youth participation down even more than it is currently. I don’t know about you, but last time I played golf I was waiting upwards of ten minutes in between shots. No one should be subjected to that kind of torture. If people don’t want to get out and play that’s on them. It’s just going to speed up my round. I hope the best guys on tour continue declining to play in tournaments that give golf worldwide exposure. It sounds like my local municipal courses are going to be a little less congested in years to come and I’m totally fine with that. .
[via Fox Business]