Watching the Olympic Games on television, thousands of miles from where it is being played, is a real joy for most of us.
The sporting spectacle is unmatched in our household for generating sleepless nights of the highest order.
Watching the Olympic Games on television, thousands of miles from where it is being played, is a real joy for most of us. The sporting spectacle is unmatched in our household for generating sleepless nights of the highest order. For those participating, it is often the very peak of their career and so it is absolutely fantastic for golf that Justin Rose has won the gold medal at the Rio Olympic games. He has declared this win to be the most important of his career and with the colossal viewing figures from around the world, his brilliance, together with that of Henrik Stenson, who chased him home, and the rest of the field have ensured that golf is back where it belongs in the Olympic Games. As with the Ryder Cup, there is no cash involved, but it matters. Shame on those top players who dodged the event for various lame excuses. The Zika virus is too serious to joke about, but there is a certain irony that many of the world's leading (richest) players, who were so worried about this dreadful virus, are based in Florida, which has a convenient location, ideal golfing opportunities and climate. It also has helpful tax rates for such rich players - the rich golfing superstars of Florida don't seem to be selling up their wonderful homes, despite the horrid Zika virus flaring up in serious outbreaks in several parts of Florida. It was always about money, and not for the first time some of the richest people are shown to have the cheapest morals.
I also wonder how much Rory's reluctance to endorse the importance of Golf in the Olympics had to do with Nike's decision to pull out of the golfing hardware business. For any company to dump a business doing north of £500 million annually, they must have had some pretty good reasons.
The world of golf is busy with other fascinating developments. This month, we bring you news of Chadwell Springs, a great new family golf centre in Hertfordshire, which will open shortly and we have a look at the fabulous golf range on the Greenwich Peninsula. The Greenwich range, which opened just over a year ago, is now hosting well over 500 people on many days of the week, about half of which are new to golf. This equates to many thousands of additional participants per year and the new golf centre at Chadwell Springs will continue this theme when it opens in a few months. These superb, purpose built new complexes, are delivering golf to a new audience and proving that there is still plenty of juice in the great game of golf. Some courses may still close, but the sport will evolve and I'm confident that new and different facilities will allow even more people to participate in golf - it just might be in a different way.
It is interesting that the UK's Olympic performances show such a remarkable improvement since 1996, when we hardly won anything, to London 2012 and now Rio 2016, where we have grown into world leaders at competitive, elite sport. This is wonderful, but the key to an increase in participation is not the same as a key to succeeding at elite levels. England Golf and the England Golf Partnership are doing a much improved job of listening to the industry as to the best ways to improve participation, after an appalling decline in golf participants since 2000. It is vital that the golfing entrepreneurs who are delivering such astonishing results must be involved at the highest level in showing golf how to increase participation in a meaningful way. They will obviously be heard, but suitable weighting should be given to their opinions - let them have a radical impact on golf, regardless of the sensitivities of the blazer wearing committee men!