Some may be disappointed by World No. 1, Dustin Johnson’s early announcement that he won’t be accepting an invitation to represent his country (USA) in the Olympics Golf Tournament, scheduled to take place in Saitama, Japan from July 29-August 1, but I won’t.
While Johnson’s withdrawal could be perceived as unpatriotic, I’m not ‘pushed’. Johnson showed me his true colours in February, when he went on a much more time-consuming and, if the truth be told, disreputable journey to play in a ‘discredited’ Saudi Arabia where filthy lucre and a hefty, lion’s share in the $15-millions of appearance money was the attraction – not a ‘piddling’ gold medal.
The Olympics is low in his order of priorities because there is ‘no money’ involved – just honour and glory (of a type). Nor will he be alone in coming to the same conclusion. Webb Simpson, who is among the four Americans qualified to be invited at present, has publicly said: “the thought of going halfway around the world to win a medal is tough to swallow when knowing what is at stake on the PGA Tour. I’m more interested in winning majors, The Players Championship and FedExCup”.
Johnson and Simpson won’t be the only ones that will come to the same conclusion. I’ll come straight out with what is bugging me. Having seen a documentary film called “Icarus”, the attitude of some countries to Olympic Sport has left me in a permanent state of disgust. Winning an Olympic medal, once the absolute pinnacle of sporting achievement has become tainted. It’s a brand beyond redemption due to all of the known drug abuse. Why should golf have anything to do with it?
The reason for golf being in the Olympics, apart from attempting to widen its appeal around the globe, is that the ruling federations need to find new areas of influence and income. Bringing the game to virgin territory in far flung places may sound altruistic but self-interest and the expansion of all facets of the so-called golf industry, especially equipment sales and advisory and administrative jobs for officials, are at the heart of the matter also. It’s as much about filling officials’ pockets and commercial interests as increasing the number of golfers.
Olympic Golf allows officialdom to spread its tentacles and zero in on future Government funding wherever it might be available. Olympic Golf might well be a bonanza for officials but there isn’t much in it from a top player’s point of view and, you can be sure, that no ‘added value’ of any sort will be redistributed to traditional golfing countries like Ireland.