The sport of golf will be returning to the Summer Olympics in 2016, making its first appearance since 1904 in Rio de Janeiro. The sport has seen extreme expansion over the past 15 years, and the geographical diversity represented in Olympic golf is sure to stand as proof.
“The popularity of golf has increased over the last fifteen years with athletes like Tiger Woods and now Jordan Spieth,” said Madyson Smith, senior William Jewell College golfer. “The Olympics will allow the sport’s fan-base to grow and introduce people around the world to golf, its rules and its challenge.”
Scotland is the claimed birthplace of golf. Since the sport’s first documentation in the 15th century it has expanded to be played in 118 countries in the International Golf Federation.
Historically, golf has had to overcome stigmas, such as being constrained to a gentlemen’s sport or the localization to wealthy country clubs. The sport has even been targeted in Robin William’s standup comedy bit “The Invention of Golf.” However, many golf fans hope inclusion in the Olympics will expand the love and understanding of golf.
“Getting golf out there for the world to see is a great parallel to what the sport’s organizations are doing; promoting the game for all ages, both genders, and multiple classes,” said Grant Janssen, senior Jewell golfer.
The return of golf to the Olympics will give the sport enough exposure that exponential increase in the sport is predicted. While golfers will have the opportunity to proudly represent their countries, they will also be able to unite with many nationalities and cultures.
“This makes me respect the Olympics so much more than I already did,” said Nick Hamilton, sophomore golfer. “I love that our sport is receiving the recognition it deserves.”
The Olympic event is projected to have a high viewership composed of lifelong fans and new enthusiasts.
“Golf gets a bad reputation as a selfish sport, a rich man’s sport, etc.,” said Janssen. “Meanwhile, the big advocates in the game are pursuing means to spread the game across the world, and for good causes. I hope the Olympics does a good job expressing this.”