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By Charles Jeffries
The Olympic Games play out this month in Rio de Janeiro, and while we’re all looking forward to quadrennial flirtation with gymnastics, swimming and track and field, golf’s return to the Games doesn’t appear to be generating much excitement – at least beyond who won’t be playing there.
We’re curious to see how invested spectators will be in Olympic golf, considering the experience of attending the Olympic Games has always centered around seats in venues where sports like gymnastics, track and field and swimming offer a continuous flow of different events. And, of course, just sitting down and watching the excitement of international soccer or basketball game – events you can’t see often in your home country – is always a spectating thrill.
Even lesser Olympic sports like kayaking, table tennis, weightlifting, wrestling and, yes, even badminton are arena-type sports viewed in a mosquito-free environment and are events fans rarely have the opportunity to see. From a Rio visitor’s point of view, Olympic golf will be just another golf tournament that looks hardly any different from a weekly PGA Tour event. We wonder how network television will handle hour upon hour of Olympic golf, which can’t possibly generate the excitement of, say, Usain Bolt racing for his third consecutive 100-meter gold medal.
If golf ends up being just a big divot in the 2016 Rio games there will be many reasons hashed over in the postmortem, perhaps one being that Brazil just isn’t a place where golf is front and center and no one gets excited about Rio as a golf destination.
So if we’re talking great golf destinations to host a future Olympics golf event, I nominate Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – and here’s why:
If a byproduct of Olympic golf it to grow the game (and it’s not really, but we all hope that’s the effect it has), a place like Rio de Janeiro wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice as the ideal venue to showcase it.
Myrtle Beach, on the other hand, would help generate the excitement Olympic golf needs to ignite the game. There is a reason the Strand is Grand, and golf plays a big part.