Golf is in Olympics -- so get over it!

IAN HUTCHINSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

Before they hurt themselves, somebody should hang a kid's mobile -- maybe one with little hockey or soccer players on it -- over those critics of golf as an Olympic sport, so the motion keeps them occupied during this difficult time.

Their temper tantrums against the inclusion of golf into the Olympics didn't work and the game is officially in as of 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

It's perplexing why anybody would waste their time protesting a game with such global reach when they can just skip it and watch one of their favourite Olympic sports when Rio rolls around.

According to these experts, a gold medal in golf for Canada, if that were to happen, would have no effect on this country's sporting landscape. (Mike Weir's 2003 win at the Masters didn't exactly go unnoticed.)

If only the detractors among hockey fans, for example, would notice that many of their favourite players spend their summers playing golf. If they talked to those players, as I have, they would be told about the skill set needed to play golf at a high level.

Instead, you get opinions such as a letter to the Sun last week which said we will probably end up with 59-year-old Tom Watson vying for the gold medal.

If that happened, it would only underscore golf's reputation as the game of a lifetime, which is what makes it the most played sport in Canada.

"It is a real sport," LPGA Tour player Alena Sharp of Hamilton said. "You've got to have athletic skill. Tiger has raised the bar. If it isn't a sport, what do you call it?

"Every professional athlete has a strong mind. You see a basketball player shoot a free throw. That's a routine shot for them, but if their focus isn't there, they don't execute the way they should. Golf is basically all mental focus at our level," she said.

Watson winning gold would be magical, just like his contention at this year's British Open, but it won't happen.

In this country, youth is more likely to prevail when you're talking potential Olympians such as Graham DeLaet, Nick Taylor, Matt Hill, Dustin Risdon, Samantha Richdale, Jennifer Kirby, Jessica Shepley and Stephanie Sherlock.

Sharp will only be 35 in 2016.

"I'll be a veteran by then. I'm going to be in my prime. It's not a huge goal right now because it's so far away, but I definitely would love to play," she said. "We have a lot of young players coming up. We had kind of a lull and now we have a great program for our juniors and amateurs and it's starting to show because they're doing well in college golf," she said about the Royal Canadian Golf Association's player development program.

Canadians will have their work cut out for them just to make it to Rio as one-quarter of the 60-player field in each of the men's and women's events will be comprised of players from the top 15 in the World Golf Rankings.

Beyond that, players would be eligible based on the rankings, with a maximum of two from each country that doesn't already have two or more players in the top 15. So it isn't a lock that any Canadian will play in the 72-hole individual stroke play.

HUTCHGOLF@NETZERO.COM


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