124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2


Beg And Plead To Join The Olympics...

August 22, 2008

Golf in the Olympics: Why would golf want to?

A number of very important golf bigwigs from various world tours have been lobbying for inclusion of the sport in the 2016 Summer Games. Several of these VIP's attended the Beijing Olympics so they could do their begging in person, and with the show now over, I was wondering which Olympic moment most impressed the visitors.

Maybe it was how the notoriously repressive government of China treated freedom of speech and expression. Before the Games, authorities there announced that citizens wishing to stage a demonstration merely would have to seek a permit to experience human rights. Unofficially, the medal count went something like this: 77 applications were submitted by 149 different people, and the government's record was perfect. None was approved.

Or perhaps our golf VIP's were taken most by the Opening Ceremony, where an adorable nine-year-old girl, Lin Miaoke, sang "Ode to the Motherland." She got rave reviews for her patriotic hymn. Unfortunately, it was a fake. The voice belonged to Yang Peiyi, 7, but she was nowhere to be seen because she has a jagged dental chart and thus was not cosmetically correct enough to represent what a great country China is. Inasmuch as the made-for-TV bash also included digitally enhanced fireworks and doctored panoramic views of a packed stadium, why didn't the department in charge of lip- synching merely provide the girl who really sang some false teeth? Show biz is show biz, right?

Even before the Beijing Games began, there was a warning from Arne Ljungqvist, the always easy to pronounce International Olympic Committee medical inspector, about a prevailing culture of "systematic doping" and "planned cheating." Evidently, his statement didn't affect the Chinese gymnastic scene, because a number of girls performing for the home team seemed awfully tiny to meet the minimum age requirement of 16. Maybe that's why Yang Peiyi and Lin Miaoke didn't make the squad. There were simply too old and haggard.

Golf is the cleanest, most honorable sport on the planet, so one does wonder how it would fit into this wink-wink atmosphere of Olympic hypocrisy. But that probably doesn't matter to those VIPs who went over there, genuflecting for votes. It's always about the money, after all, and never about the ethics. If you stick your toe in the Olympic cesspool and come away with a few bucks, you always can go back to your hotel in Beijing and take a shower. Unless you need a permit for that too.