Van Cynical Mailbag: Will Golf Be in the Olympics in 2024?

August 2, 2016

Here’s what I learned from the PGA Championship, although it’s something I already knew: Tour players can play much, much faster when they have a deadline and an incentive. The PGA field whisked around the first 18 Sunday morning in such record time, compared to the usual slowpoke crap that goes on, that the tee times for the second 18 got moved up. And that’s how the rain-delayed PGA finished on time. That, plus no three-hole playoff.

Jason Day would have been an excellent champion, too, but I was happy to see Jimmy Walker win. Well, at 7:15 Sunday night I would’ve been happy to see anyone win. I don’t think I was first to chronicle Walker’s fabulous astrophotography hobby (which you can find here) but I did that piece before Walker went on a tear and started winning tournaments left and right, so I was early riding him and it’s been cool to seem him enjoy so much success.

Well, I’m off to Brazil as soon as its economy stabilizes. Which I’m estimating to happen around 2026. Meanwhile, I’m off to the Van Cynical Mailbag to answer your snappy questions with my usual stilted answers. You get what you pay for…

Hey Van Sick Days, Given that the decision on Olympic golf past 2020 will be made soon, could anything happen in ’16 to save it?—[email protected] via Twitter

Tiger winning would do it but that’s kind of a long shot, Jiffypop. Note sarcasm, since he’s not eligible. Maybe incredible TV ratings and lots of buzz. I’m not sure how either one of those happens, however.

Hey Van Mannschaft, Would a nobody winning the Olympic gold medal be good or bad?—Kris B via Twitter

It would be big in a non-golfing home country, absolutely, but that winner would likely be a nice curiosity in North America, nothing else. It’s the Olympics, I’m not convinced it makes a difference who wins. Gold is gold. A no-name winner with an amazing backstory might be a plus, it depends on the story. Too many variables to make the call.

Hey Van Cynical, When did the PGA become the glorified Memorial Tournament? Make it match play again, to hell with sponsor dollars.—Brian Bailey via Twitter

Sorry, Bailstorm, you’re thinking too far outside the bun this time. Match play is a poor way to determine a champion. More important, TV hates it. They’re afraid of a Nobody vs. Nobody final, and of it ending an hour too soon. A match-play event can’t and shouldn’t be a major.

Van Classical, Would the PGA event be better off in October in a sunshine venue in the U.S.? It’s the runt of the litter that needs its own identity anyway.—PGACusack via Twitter

The NFL season probably makes that impractical, Sackman. Plus now you’re moving a major to the fall series, or as the top players call it, the offseason, and you’d have a two-and-a-half month gap between the third and final major. March would work way better than October. What’s more exciting than being the first major of the year?

Hey Van Cynical, When will my old wedges be illegal because of the grooves rule?—Andrew Polson via Twitter

Let’s save time, Polsonpill. I’ll declare you illegal right now. Equipment-makers stopped producing the modified U-grooves last year and they are already not allowed in competition—the grooves, not the equipment-makers. Pardon my unspecified subject. You’ve got eight more years, until 2024, to use them in recreational play. The grooves, not the equipment-makers. Although if you send me a little something on the side, if you know what I mean, I might be able to get you—wink wink, nudge nudge—an extension. Or not.

MORE: Meet the Brazilian Bobby Jones

Hey VanSlapshot, Who was steering the PGA bus on Saturday tee times when storms were forecast?—Kevin Montminy via Twitter

Kerry Haigh made the PGA call and while I’ve disagreed with some past PGA decisions, KevMont, this one was understandable. First, forecast was off. Nobody predicted, Hey, it’s going to rain and storm for 12 hours straight. It was supposed to be the occasional rogue storm cell. Well, it wasn’t. Second, 86 players made the cut and that’s too many to go off both tees in threesomes. The first group off would make the turn and face at least a 45-minute wait. Maybe you could have gone threesomes off the first tee but the tradeoff you make in getting players off the tee sooner gets lost in slower playing time of three players versus two. Also, TNT had rights to show the morning play. What is CBS going to do, replay what TNT already aired? The TV deals probably prevented any innovative storm-avoidance, the kind we often see at PGA Tour events when bad weather is pending on the weekend. A more foreboding forecast might have changed things a little.

Hey Deep Sicks, Big Three? No such thing. Olympics? Crime, pollution, corruption – meh. Post-PGA? Letdown…–Gary K. McCormick via Twitter

Nice job, G-Mack. You just put somebody’s entire PGA wrapup column Joe Piscopo-esquely into a Tweet. Well bowled, sir! I would read Bloomberg Businessweek’s piece on the Rio sewage fiasco and the murder of the woman who was trying to conquer the corrupt Brazilian system. Check it out.

Hey Vans, The Big Three is a fantasy of the media. The depth out there on Tour is serious. If Spieth doesn’t putt, he ain’t world class.—Keith Macnair via Twitter

The choir hears your preaching, K-Mac. The Big Three seemed legit in 2015 but they’re as broken up as the Beatles after Yoko. I’ve got Jason Day as my big one, Dustin Johnson as my silver medalist and Spieth as the most likely bronze man. Spieth does putt, however, so he is world class, and he’s not going away. Rory McIlroy is the guy who has to re-prove himself. The Big Three is dead. Long live the Dirty Dozen, or whatever comes next.

Hey Van Cynical, Is Jimmy Walker now invited to Spring Break 2017 and to house share at the 2017 British Open again?—David Troyan via Twitter

I don’t think so, Troy Story. When you’re way older than the other guys and you’ve got a wife and kids in tow, you’re no longer Spring Break material. And you’re getting your own place, man. It’s a law in four states.