Golf is an Olympic sport at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, the first time since 1904 that golf was a recognized Olympic sport. Back in 1904 I’m pretty confident every golfer was an amateur as the Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA) of America was founded in 1916. The Olympics were open only to amateurs until 1992 when professional basketball players were allowed to represent their countries. Since then the rationale for allowing professionals to compete has been to showcase the “best players in the world” to compete on the Olympics stage.
There will be both male and female competitions at the Olympics, and while many of the best golfers decided not to compete (mainly due to the Zika virus threat), there will be no amateur men golfers and only two amateur women golfers in Rio. There’s a nice discussion of this here at the GolfWeek website.
I’m of the opinion that the Olympics should be for amateurs. There are many “official” events in professional sports to showcase the abilities of professional athletes, such as the Tour de France, the World Series, and the US and British Opens. But there are few opportunities to see the best amateurs in the world compete. I’m old enough to have watched the Olympics when it was the most prestigious display of amateur talent. That remains true for swimmers, track and field athletes, and gymnasts. Maybe that’s why these events are still the most watched…
The Olympics are over, and the men’s golf gold medalist is Justin Rose of Great Britain, and the women’s gold medalist is Inbee Park of South Korea. Both are worthy champions!