Dustin Johnson isn’t going to Tokyo – and others will follow. It’s time for a shake-up, writes Alex Perry
Dustin Johnson told us last year he wasn’t going to go to the Olympic Games in Japan. So it should come as no surprise that he has decided he’s still not going to the postponed Olympic Games in Japan.
The World No 1 confirmed that the timings don’t work out for him, with the Games scheduled to be begin on July 29.
“It’s right in the middle of a big stretch of golf for me, so that was the reason I was waffling on it a little bit,” Johnson explained at the Players Championship. “It’s a long way to travel, and I think the WGC is the week right after it, and the British [Open] is a couple of weeks before.
“It’s a lot of travelling at a time where it’s important to feel like I’m focused playing on the PGA Tour.”
But it has raised the question once again of whether or not golf should be an Olympic sport.
If you have some golfers saying they’re really not bothered by the Olympics, then what is the point? If you’re not going up against the absolute best of the best then does that devalue the medal around your neck? Absolutely it does, but they won’t admit it.
Missing out on a major due to injury is one thing, but can you imagine DJ and Brooks Koepka – another player who wasn’t planning on travelling to Tokyo – saying they’re not really fussed about showing up at Augusta this year?
You can’t, because it wouldn’t happen.
They’ve schlepped to Saudi Arabia for the last three years for just about the most controversial tournament on the planet – all in the name of an easy pay day – but can’t be bothered to go to one of, if not the greatest sporting occasion on earth.
I have always been of the belief that if competing at the Games and winning a medal is not the pinnacle of your sport then it should not be an Olympic discipline. See also: Tennis. (At least the big names show up for that.)
So what’s the answer? Well, you make golf at the Olympics an amateur event.
Sure, watching those yet to make the step up to the professional ranks battling out for medals wouldn’t do much for the casual golf fan. But I can tell you now that I have absolutely zero interest in rowing, or handball, or dressage until you put medals on the line – then I’m willing the dancing British horse to dance better than the other countries’ dancing horses as if my life depended on it.
It would give the best up-and-coming players the chance to announce themselves on the world stage in a career-defining event and would make household names of those who are really only known to those of us who follow the sport closely.
The best golfers in the world couldn’t be bothered to show up in 2016 and I doubt much will change this time around. You might blame the fact the format was the same as it is week in week out on tour, but, as much as we want it to, golf on a professional level does not need the Olympics. And the Olympics doesn’t really need golf.
Consider this the start of my #OlympicGolf4Amateurs campaign.