How Golf’s Success Among the Young Elite Lead to the First Olympic Golfers in 112 Years
The last time golf appeared on the Olympic program was in the summer of 1904 in St. Louis, Missouri. Players were all male (after a controversial program that allowed women’s competition was discontinued), and came from just two countries: U.S.A. and Canada. Basically, golf was not exactly contributing to the global community philosophy held by the Olympic organizers. And so, after a break of more than a century, it seems that golf has finally drummed up enough international interest to return to the Summer Games.
Not Everyone is a Fan
There are many critics of Golf’s return to the Olympics, however. Specifically, some complain that there is no reason for golf to be part of Olympic play, when a high-profile stage for the sport already exists. The pinnacle of a golfer’s career, as things are now, would be taking a high title in the PGA or LPGA tours, and not earning a spot on the Olympic podium. For many sports and many nations, the Olympic Games are one of only a few chances to showcase talent, and stir up more interest and cash for their sport. Golf, on the other hand, is known as a wealthy sport, with little need for more attention or funding. But the game’s recent resurgence of success among young American golfers suggests a vast potential for grow with international youth as well. In fact, recent trends reported in Forbes, show that “the number of youth golfers has grown by 29 percent to 3.1 million…” and that “With PGA Champion Rory McIlroy serving as an Official Ambassador, PGA Junior League Golf participation nearly doubled last year to more than 17,000 boys and girls.”
Keeping an Eye on the Ball
Where there are signs of growth, both PGA and Olympic officials see the potential for more. And according to Alan Shipnuck for Golf.com, “Countries without strong golfing traditions are suddenly pouring money into player development.” Where we have seen interest among American young people rise this century, we can now hope to see a similar boom in rates of interest among international youth.