Olympic Golf: What We Learned

Not only did Justin Rose (above) win the first Olympic gold medal in golf in 112 years, we learned some things worth thinking about going forward. For instance…

  • As suspected, pride does matter, at least among those players who chose to play in Rio. It’s nice to see a competition where money isn’t the big issue, but you have to feel a little bad for the 57 men who didn’t get to stand on the podium. They did get some nice shirts and bags, though.
  • Whether or not personal and patriotic pride mattered, NBC’s commentators sure thought it did and had to tell us every few minutes how important the event was and how much the players cared. Which very well may have been true, but we could have used a little less breast-beating by the broadcaster.
  • Wasn’t it nice to see players almost devoid of corporate logos? Other than something from their countries and something generally subtle from the apparel manufacturers, the uniforms weren’t walking billboards. However, Rose’s final-day shirt (also above) almost made us forget the ugly shower curtains worn by the American Ryder Cup team at The Country Club in 1999. Almost.
  • If Matt Kuchar makes the Ryder Cup team this year, don’t tell him which format he’ll be competing at each day. He seems to do just fine when he doesn’t know in advance if he’s playing singles, foursomes, four balls, match play, or a scramble.
  • Speaking of the Ryder Cup, the Europeans would seem to have an edge if the Olympics are an indicator. Although Kuchar took the bronze medal, he was surrounded by Rose (England), silver medalist Henrik Stenson (Sweden), Thomas Pieters (Germany), Rafa Cabrera Bello (Spain), and Sergio Garcia (Spain). Kudos to Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed, both of whom battled back from weak starts to finish in the top 11. (The fourth American, Rickie Fowler, finished T37.)
  • We didn’t miss Rory, Jordan, Dustin, Jason, and the other no-shows.
  • After the negative comments about the same-old format (72 holes, stroke play), it still came down to a classic mano a mano battle between two of the world’s best. Which is pretty cool no matter where it happens.
  • Perhaps most important, the lesson to take away from four rounds in Rio is that great golf is great golf no matter where it’s played, under what conditions, or the players involved. And that has nothing to do with the Olympics.
  • And here’s hoping the women put on just as good a show.