Having your favorite sport in the Olympics makes you look forward to this quadrennial event.
With over 30 sports included in the Summer Olympics, it makes sense that golf should be one of them. So, is golf in the Olympics?
Yes, recently, golf popped back into the Olympic games after a long absence, and it looks like it’s here to stay. However, not all golfing fans are hyped up about the re-listing.
Read on to know more about it!
Table of Contents
Is Golf in the Olympics?
The Olympics aren’t a new occurrence at all. Officially, it goes all the way back to 1896. While golf is also an old sport, it didn’t show up in the games until 1900. Even then, it didn’t make it to the 1908 London Games.
It wasn’t till the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil that golf reappeared as an Olympic sport. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics was only its second appearance since the last official match in 1904.
So, between 1904 and 2016, you could only catch the biggest golf tournaments from the Majors.
What Game Format Does Olympic Golf Follow?
Golfers in the Olympic games play a 72-hole individual stroke play, completed in four rounds. These rounds are spread over four days, with 18 holes each day.
Unlike major golf tournaments, golf in the Olympics allows players to complete all four rounds. Then, their cumulative scores determine their groupings for the last two rounds.
As a rule, those who finish last have to tee off first, while top players tee off last.
At the end of the rounds, the player with the most score wins the Olympic medal. In case of a tie, there’ll be an additional three-hole playoff to determine the winner.
What Are the Qualifications for Golf in the Olympics?
Unlike in the Majors, where only the best of the best golfers play, the Olympics places some limitations on the number of players and participating countries.
The Olympics tournaments have a cap of 60 players to determine who’s eligible to play, based on the Olympic Golf Rankings.
The top 15 world players are automatically eligible to play. However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) only allows a maximum of four athletes from a country included in the list.
Players with ranks below the top 15 can still participate, but each country can only have two athletes.
While this may sound reasonable, the world ranking is brimming with American players. So, even if they’re an eligible player, they can’t sign up for the Olympics if their country meets the four participants limit.
Why Some Don’t Like Having Golf in the Olympics
While reinstating golf back into the Olympics may seem like a step forward, some golfers think this decision doesn’t add much value.
Here are some reasons why:
1. There Are Other Notable Pro Golf Competitions
Even when golf met its suspension in the Olympics, tournaments and competitions didn’t stop. Golf players have the Masters, US PGA Championship, US Open, and the Open Championship to occupy them all year round.
Although the Olympic games only happen once every four years, the training can burn players out, especially on top of training for the Majors.
Besides, the Olympics seem to cater more to up-and-coming golf players. Unlike in the Majors, the games don’t sift through players because of their rules on maximum players per country.
2. It’s Missing the Extra Appeal
For most pro golfers, an extra medal from the Olympics doesn’t add much value to their wins. Sure, it may sound remarkable to hear someone say they’ve won an Olympic gold medal, but that’s all there is to it.
Still, the major golf tournaments weigh heavier in comparison to the Olympics. At the end of the day, many pro golfers want a Claret Jug or a green jacket much more than another medal.
Another snag that golfers see is that winning the Olympics doesn’t impact their world rankings. Meanwhile, competing even in the Challenge Tour can be a ticket to major tournaments.
3. Not the Most Engaging Set of Rules
Going through the IOC’s golfing rules, you may also scratch your head.
On the one hand, they’re setting a fair standard for participating countries. On the other hand, golfers in countries with higher ranks may not be eligible to play. This downside affects the US, Great Britain, and Australia more than any other country.
Even so, lesser-known countries for golf also have their fair share of handicaps. For example, pitting Rory McIlroy against an amateur golfer already equates to a loss for the latter.
What’s more, a 72-hole individual stroke play in the span of four days can get pretty dull. Team play and match play deliver better entertainment and thrill to the game.
That said, as long as famous golfers play in Olympic golf, the 72-hole stroke play won’t change anytime soon.
Will Golf Be in the 2024 Olympics?
After consecutive participation in the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, Olympic golf is sure to stay in the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
For the most part, qualification rules and game formats will remain the same. You can also expect to see familiar faces from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to take on the challenge of bringing home a gold medal.
Golf is an exciting sport to take up competitively or as a hobby. It’s even more exciting if you can see your favorite players participating in golf events.
Is golf in the Olympics, though? Well, the answer is yes, officially since 2016.
Still, whether golf stays in the Olympics or not, there are several major events where you can catch your favorites.
For now, you can still bask in the excitement of anticipating the Olympics in 2024.