As a skeptic of the importance of golf’s presence in the Olympic Games, I now stand convinced that the play of those who who competed in this weekend’s men’s competition and the quality of the venue created to contest it on does indeed matter both to the game today and where it is headed in the future.
The first two days it looked like your weekly European Tour event with quality players of little international recognition leading the way. Marcus Fraser’s opening round 63 was astounding but few people knew who he was. The TV Cume reading for the broadcast was barely noticeable at this point.
But that all changed when the heroic play of Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, and Matt Kucher, three of the top players and finest gentlemen in the men’s game, on Saturday and Sunday provided riveting drama and expressed the added intrigue that playing for one’s country and a medal in an Olympic Games can only provide.
Proudly displaying the winner’s hardware on the podium
Hats off to all three of these gentlemen for their attitude toward playing in these games and their consistent expression of purpose throughout the week on what it would mean to be standing on the winner’s podium at the end of the day.
An equal measure of respect has to be given to the design heroics of Gil Hanse and Amy Alcott for their creation of this gem of a golf course on which these Olympic Competitions is being played. Hanse should get the credit he rightfully deserves as one of the preeminent course designers of his generation, an equal to Tom Doak, Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw, and Pete Dye who seem to get most of the mention these days.
Gil Hanse-the author was on hand for the big reveal
Those who have played Hanse creations like Rustic Canyon in California or Castle Stuart in Scotland recognize the unique wide and open style of this design and complementary creative short grass green complexes . Together this provides a strategic element to play that can change daily with the prevailing winds and firmness of the ground conditions. The clever sequencing of the first three and last three holes rewarded aggressive play with scoring opportunities and the rapidly shifting leader board on Saturday and Sunday reflected the genius of that design element.
This only portends for more of the same as the best female golfers in the world take on this Olympic challenge in the coming week.
One last up and down led to this triumphant gesture
In the end it was superlative play-Kucher’s 63 on Sunday, Stenson’s 68-68 on the weekend, and Rose’s clutch birdies on 15 and 18 that punctuated a glorious introduction of golf into the Olympics.
I, for one, am now a believer!