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Golf’s limited appeal in Olympics

Hideki Matsuyama’s Masters victory will matter for Japan as host of Summer Games, but Olympic golf otherwise will underwhelm

What Hideki Matsuyama's Masters victory means to the Olympics is a popular talking point. Of course, it is very possible that it will mean nothing as Japan seems to be edging closer to canceling the entire event, with polls showing the populace is against it and a senior Japanese official mentioning the possibility recently. There certainly will be very few, if any, on-course spectators, and no one from outside of Japan. 

Among golf's superstars, the Olympics is just not that enticing ("Dustin Johnson shortchanges Olympic golf," March 10). Yes, to win one of the medals would be cool, especially if it's gold. Just ask Justin Rose, who won in 2016. I’d bet that a number of top players will decline the honor again this year. It will be especially cool for Matsuyama, because it's in his home country. 

Professional golf doesn't need the Olympics, and I doubt that the Olympics really need golf; some of the new Olympic “sports” might indicate otherwise. Breaking (in 2024), anyone? Even winning the gold medal is a somewhat Pyrrhic victory for any professional on the PGA Tour, considering the overall competition. 

Golf and the Olympics screwed the pooch when they chose a standard 72-hole stroke-play event and professionals as the format. It certainly tipped the playing field to the usual suspects. I understand that golf in the Olympics does “grow the game” in many non-golfing countries as the governments of these countries see the Olympics as “building their brand.” China suddenly has golf courses.

A competition for amateurs in a team format might have been interesting and would have leveled the field a little bit. An event featuring some of the best professional players in the world versus the top two from countries that many of us couldn't locate on a map, not so much. It's just a very limited-field PGA Tour event, without the money. 

Blaine Walker
St. Paul, Minn.

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