Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Team Golf Format at Games No Gimme

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Team Golf Format at Games No Gimme

Article excerpt

RIO DE JANEIRO * For all the praise of golf's return to the Olympics, there was no shortage of suggestions to make it better.

The easy fix is to introduce a team format.

All golf leaders had to do for the Rio Games was to combine the scores of the top two players from each country to provide a team medal. There would have been 24 teams for the men and women. For the men, Sweden would have won by one shot over the Americans, and Justin Rose's birdie putt to win the gold medal also would have given Britain the bronze medal by one shot over Spain.

How's that for an additional layer of drama?

If only it were that simple.

"We didn't have time," said Ty Votaw, vice president of the International Golf Federation.

Votaw said the International Olympic Committee doesn't allow for two competitions in one. A team format would have had to be a separate competition. Try squeezing that into two weeks, on an 18- hole golf course that was brand new for competition without knowing how much stress it could take.

"The IOC rejected it," Votaw said.

The other option was to have a team format in place of the individual competition. Sure, that might have enticed some of the countries that skipped out (the Australians and South Africans come to mind), but it would have reduced the number of flags raised along the 18th fairway at Olympic Golf Course.

"We thought having the most countries was better than team competition," he said. "And then someone like Jhonattan Vegas (Venezuela) would not have had a partner."

Lydia Ko would have been left out, too.

As it was, six medals went to six nations over two weeks. So it wasn't all that bad.

One element that won't change or shouldn't is 72 holes of stroke play.

All but a few tournaments throughout the year use that format, and there's a reason for that. It remains the best way to measure who played the best golf that week. And that's what the Olympics should be. Match play is bad for television and leaves spectators only one match to follow at the end, and there's a history approaching 20 years at the Match Play Championship that illustrates how unpredictable it can be.

Any other format would be a gimmick, or best saved for the silly season. …

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