Many of the world’s best golfers have dropped out of the Olympics due to the fear of the Zika virus and is totally understandable. But when asked further about not competing, Rory McIlroy stated that he’s not in golf to “help grow the game” but is there to win major championships.
This comment specifically caused a stir within the golf community whether it’s from fans or golf media, it caused quite a controversy. Many people believe that it is McIlroy’s duty to help grow the game but it’s far from true.
The best way for guys like McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day to help grow the game, is to play the best golf they can. The cool thing about is that it’s not just one dominant player, it’s multiple guys who are winning week after week.
This shows how deep the talent is in golf today, and if all of these young talented players continue to play well, that will automatically get a boost. Like with other sports, surely, we have watched a team or a player that was so great that it fueled our passion for that game.
Michael Jordan certainly helped with the popularization of basketball thanks to his jaw dropping dunks, clutch baskets and shutdown defense. Same with golf as when Tiger Woods was in his prime, many kids wanted to be like him, fist pump and all.
But with the competitive balance that the current PGA Tour has, it makes things that much more interesting. And, in fact, this generation of pros is so deep, that despite the many dropouts from the Olympics, the field is still fairly strong.
Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson alone will get some eyes glued to the TV and ears leaning towards the radio due to their immense popularity. This bring me to my next point and that is, guys like Fowler, like Watson (Hate him or love him), like Spieth and like Henrik Stenson, they all have colorful personalities.
Fowler has built quite a following on Twitter, reaching well over one million followers because he’s funny and people wonder what he’ll post next. This alone can help “grow the game” because personalities can cause intrigue and the fact that a guy like Fowler is as good a player that he is, it adds to this.
There are numerous other ways to help grow the game and one of those ways is to televise unique tournaments. For example, the R&A will doing an annual nine-hole amateur tournament each year the week prior to the Open Championship and will be on TV.
It’s a good way to bring people into the game who think 18 holes takes too much time and money (which I agree). The Major Series of Putting is a new tournament that hopes to be televised next year.
The MJOP shows off the simplest and arguably the funnest part of the game which is putting. This is a great way to promote the game as it shows how much skill and fun can be put into just using one club.
Because let’s face it, we watch in disbelief when someone drills a 30-foot putt on a crazy slope. Especially if it’s on one of the last few holes of a tournament.
And golf is arguably the most versatile sport in the world which is why it’s so easy to create tournaments like these. Sports like basketball and soccer are so popular because they are extremely accessible.
All you need is a basketball and then find a court. In soccer, all you need is a soccer ball and find a pitch or you can use your imagination.
In golf, really all you need is a sand wedge a few soft golf balls and you can hit the streets and play. Use the world around you to become a golf course designer and build your own track.
But many of us have this strange mindset that we have to play 18 holes, no questions asked. This mindset needs to change if people want to “grow the game”.
After all, golf wasn’t always an 18 hole game anyway. The Old Course at St. Andrews wasn’t always an 18-holer and Oakhurst Links in West Virginia is the oldest course in America and it’s a nine hole track.
So promoting the nine-hole game is also a great way to grow the game and is fitting for those who don’t want to try the unique offerings as mentioned earlier. The last thing I’ll mention is that video games are also good for golf for a couple of reasons.
One of these reasons is that the gaming industry has exploded more than ever before. If a kid or someone in their early to mid 20’s plays a golf game, it may help fuel their interest.
On a personal note, playing one of the old Tiger Woods games was immensely important in getting me interested in the sport. I’ve never looked back since.
Especially if it involves motion control where people can take a real golf swing in their house without damaging anything. The good thing about all of this is that there are numerous golf games that are out or will come out soon.
So many people, golfers and non-golfers alike can enjoy the experience without the high costs of the 18-hole game. Plus, as mentioned, golf can score a ton of new fans this way.
So, for people tripping over Rory McIlroy’s comments, I just gave you many ways that the game is continuing to grow. I can go on and on with more reasons but I’ll just leave it there.
McIlroy was honest and I think we all can appreciate that.
So, want the game to grow? Golf is arguably the most versatile sport on the planet, so why not take advantage?
Colin GP Mieczkowski
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