Congrats to Justin Rose for winning the first Olympic Gold in golf for the first time in over 100 years. Let’s give credit where credit is due, to win the first Olympics in golf in over a century is a big deal. Who the hell was even playing back then other than Bobby Jones? Anyway, it was a great win for a world-class player, and to see fellow greats Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar on the podium was great as well.
Ok, enough with the lovey dovey stuff. I’ve been hearing a lot of rumblings from individuals saying that in the future we should go ahead and hold Olympic medals in the same or higher regard as major championships. Johnny Miller stated at the end of the Olympic broadcast that these were his thoughts because of the fact that Olympics happen only once every four years so your shot at winning gold in one’s career happens a lot less than the attempts at a major. I can understand where people are coming from with that point but get out of here if you think that winning a gold medal in golf compares to winning a major. It’s comparing apples and oranges. Jack Nicklaus never ate any of those metaphorical oranges. Arnold Palmer never had a chance to eat any of those oranges either but the two of them sure ate a hell of a lot of apples. How can we measure a golfer’s legacy if the legends of golf never had an opportunity to compete for the same medals?
The other point I want to make on this argument is that people believe the Olympic medals to be worth more because if a golfer has a 20 year career, in theory they have 5 attempts to go for gold, in contrast with 80 attempts to win a major. For some reason, they believe that this makes the Olympics more valuable than major wins. For me, I believe that the sample size is just too small to prove someone worthy of greatness. What sounds better to you; a golfer that wins 10 majors in his career or a golfer that wins 1 Olympic gold medal and no majors? If you’re basing your argument on statistics given the numbers I just gave you, you might be inclined to say that winning 1 Olympic gold in 5 attempts is better than the 10 majors because it’s a winning percentage of 20% versus 12.5%. But who in their right mind would choose winning one Olympic gold medal versus 10 majors in 80 attempts? The one Olympic medal winner and zero majors will forever be forgotten in the history books. The 10 majors winner would be heralded among the greats of golf and would be fourth in the record books behind Nicklaus, Woods, and Hagen.
Having golf back in the Olympics is an amazing thing don’t get me wrong. But let’s collectively pump the brakes on thinking this will be on major championship status. I’ll wait until a single golfer collects 4 Olympic golds to start talking about legacy’s and Olympics in the same breath.