With the Olympics in full swing, I am excited to share this episode of On the Green Podcast with you all.
On the eve of the Olympic Games, I had the pleasure of speaking with Chris Smith and Chris Reimer of the International Golf Federation (IGF). At the time of this podcast’s airing, Chris and Chris will be covering golf for the Tokyo Games from the Kasumigaseki Country Club. The two former longtime PGA TOUR staffers will surely bring a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and personality to their coverage of the highly anticipated golf competition.
Since the opening ceremony on July 23, the world has been tuning in to cheer on their home countries as their representative athletes compete for the gold. However, with the yearlong postponement, Japan’s current state of emergency with COVID-19, and the lack of spectators allowed in the stands, this year’s Olympics undoubtedly stands out from years past.
“When you have a competition that is bigger than any competition in the world, you can’t fault the Japanese government for wanting to take care of their country, to take care of their residents and be safe,” says Chris Reimer. “It’s not optimal and it’s not what anyone would want for the Olympics, especially the athletes themselves. But understandably, they’ll play 72 holes, we’ll hand out three medals, and it’ll be a lot of fun.”
Though golf is a sport best enjoyed with fans on-site, it performs well on television and can still be exciting for those tuning in from home. If you’ve been following any Olympic golfers’ stories, you’ll know there is no shortage of entertainment for golf fans this year.
For example, Hideki Matsuyama—the winner of this year’s Masters Tournament—has the exciting opportunity to compete for the gold in his home country. There are also plenty of talented up-and-coming golfers, such as Viktor Hovland of Norway and Sophia Popov of Germany, that will be exciting to watch and root for during this year’s competition.
After a 112-year absence, golf returned to the Olympics during the 2016 Rio Games and was well-received among new fans and old. Despite all the changes and challenges surrounding this year’s games, both Smith and Reimer anticipate interest to be even higher in 2021 and in years to come.
“You have to look at the Olympics as the massive platform it presents in terms of exposure worldwide,” says Chris Smith. “Long-term, the hope is that golf in the Olympics will promote further growth and popularity of the game. I think, really, the big opportunity is in the countries where golf is more of a developing sport.”
The golf portion of the Olympics begins on July 29, with the men competing until August 1 and the women competing from August 4-7. If you’re interested in learning more about Chris Smith and Chris Reimer, their work with the IGF, and this year’s Olympic golf competition, be sure to listen to the podcast above. To stay up to date with the latest news and notes from the world of golf, follow the On the Green Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.