First, let me say I am extremely appreciative of the fact that golf was included in the 2016 Olympics and is scheduled to carry forward at least until the 2024 Games.
Last week, the International Olympic Committee announced mixed-gender relays in swimming, track and triathlon; mixed team events in archery, judo and mixed doubles in table tennis.
All are connected to golf in a variety of ways.
The original game of table tennis was played by standing some books on their edges across a table to represent a net and a golf ball was volleyed back and forth using additional books as paddles.
For years, steeple chases and cross country runs have been held across golf courses. Archery takes place on a course similar to a golf course. Judo has a Grand Slam event and golf has grand slam events .
Swimming has been documented as being extremely analogous because of the great amount of mental thought processes required to perform what most people perceive to be a physically oriented game/sport. Besides, without swimming. where would we get so many used balls?
Now that you can see how relevant golf is to the new sports listed by the IOC, I ask you why isn’t golf among them?
I know golf is a relative new comer to the world (Olympic) stage but it certainly passed every requirement needed for continuation particularly in the revenue department. Certainly, television ratings for golf exceeded expectations with the number of people watching the final round in Rio, only second to the Masters.
In my opinion, golf is the perfect sport to use mixed gender competition to advance future growth of the sport.
The rules for all daily play are identical to those applied during the top championships. There is a bonafide handicapping system that allows every player to compete equally with any other player regardless of skill level and outside of a difference of in yardage any player regardless of gender can produce golf shots at the highest level.
Currently, competitions are held around the world where men compete with women as partners. Take for example a husband and wife event at your club. Each plays from a course yardage meant to add enjoyment to their round and still maintain a challenge.
The scores are subjected to a handicapping system and added together with the outcome compared to other teams and prizes awarded.
Why not determine a method of equalization that considers the yardage question and have men compete both with and against women?
Within our monumental mathematically-brilliant minds, surely we can develop something. Something that when the tee shots are struck, both players are hitting an approach to a green with approximately the same club.
There are men who hit the ball prodigious distances compared to the other men. There are also women who hit the ball further than other women.
Generally, men hit the ball further than most women, professional or not, but when a professional male hits a drive and an eight iron on a hole measuring 450 yards and professional female hits a drive and an eight iron on a hole measuring 400 yards there is a beginning to a discussion.
The PGA and LPGA Tours, the USGA, R&A etc., all have tons of data gathered over thousands of rounds. Certainly, they have enough to determine an acceptable distance to place the tee markers to produce the same iron into a green.
Once that argument is settled, try a few events to find out the exact location that develops over time and let’s go – man vs. woman, man/man vs. woman/woman, man/woman vs. men/woman, etc.
A few years ago a group of local players enjoyed a regular weekly outing. There was a huge disparity in skill level. Rather than allow a numerical handicap, we encourage players go adopt their own set of teeing areas that produced a score of 72.
If players began shooting too many scores under par, back they went. If you were getting too high, forward you went. It took a while, but soon everyone had equal opportunity to win a skin, shoot the lowest score and be competitive. More than everything else, we all had a lot of fun.
Given the statistics accumulated by various organizations there must be a way to set up a course so each faction has the opportunity to compete equally
Of course, there are some men who will reject the concept because they believe women are inferior athletes. I propose to them Muhammad Ali’s daughter Laila was a professional boxer. If she’s so inferior, why don’t you challenge her to a couple of rounds?
We all talk about promoting the game. Why not follow the lead of the IOC? Let’s be proactive and organize mixed gender golf events before the IOC tells golfers how they think it should be done.
I think today’s adolescents are far less oriented toward separating males and females than previous generations and developing mixed gender competitions in a fair, equitable manner just might appeal to the masses.