Rio 2016: Building the future of golf?

We have waited for this moment for more than 100 years. It was in 1904 in St. Louis when golf was last included in the Olympic Games. Now, less than 4 months before the start of the Rio 2016, everybody is considering what the Olympic Games can bring to the game of golf.

The inclusion of golf in the Olympic Games is a great achievement for the International Golf Federation and those organisations who actively participated in this initiative. But will becoming part of the next Olympic Games help grow the game globally? Since the inclusion of tennis in 2000, the number of active players has grown from 60 to 101 million, can Golf exceed this achievement?

Some within global golf have mixed feelings about the participation and value of an Olympics medal, USA’s Jordan Spieth considering one as a “fifth major”. However, we can find leading golfers and officials, especially those hailing from golf’s traditional heartlands, who feel the pinnacle of the game belongs solely at its own historic major championships (The Open Championship, Ryder Cup, U.S. Open, PGA Championship, Masters Tournament etc.) and not at the summer Olympics.

As we can see in the golf media, the debate has not calmed down in the seven years since the decision to include Golf in 2016. The full acceptance of participation in the Olympic Games by the major professionals could support the success of the bigger cause, the growth and popularity of the game in general.

The timing of the PGA Championship is not making this process any easier. It will take place at the end of July, only a few weeks before the Olympics, with the Ryder Cup taking place not too long after the closing ceremonies. If the major players decide not to take part in the Games, due to earning potential and prestige of traditional competitions, this opportunity for global exposure could be squandered.

The Olympic do offer serious exposure that the industry cannot afford to waste. London 2012 reached 3.6 billion people, over half of the global population. The London 2012 Olympic Games Global Broadcast Report found that over 190 official Games RHB/ broadcaster websites were available to 2.4 billion people, offering 81,500 hours of video content.

For just NBC Universal, the Olympic ad sales were around 1.3 Billion USD. Thanks to the “favourable” time zone of Rio, NBC Universal and other media companies are expecting more viewers this year since the major competitions will be aired live in or around prime time in key markets including Europe. However, to have significant audience the participation of leading tour players is indispensable.

The opportunity offered by the Olympic audience is unprecedented, exposing the game of golf to millions who are brand new to the sport. This exposure is, for once, not just for the male players, but will give an equal opportunity for people around the globe to spectate the female Pro’s at work too. Are we prepared and ready to maximize this golden occasion?

Olympic coverage does not guarantee improvement in participation rates. Whilst Athletics is one of the most popular and televised parts of the Olympics, this popularity does not transfer into increased participation in Europe.

In next month’s Newsletter we will delve into what we as an industry can do to ensure that we do not fall into this same trap. We will help you to create your own plan to make the most of the buzz around Golf at the Olympics and to harness it to increase participation at your own club.

If you have already made plans and want to share your ideas with your fellow members, contact Matthew Enevoldson at

Article written by Miklós Breitner of Golf Business Monitor, edited by Matthew Enevoldson of the EGCOA

Contact us

Questions, issues or concerns? I'd love to help you!

Click ENTER to chat