First published on the Golf Monthly website on Thursday 14th August 2008
Fergus has watched far too much of the Olympics and it appears to have addled his brain.
So, the Olympics are well underway in Beijing. For the next ten days we can continue to be totally engrossed in sports we have absolutely no interest in. If the archery or synchronised diving World Championships were (for some strange reason) shown on primetime TV, I would not be watching. But, because it’s the Olympics I find myself drawn towards the telly and end up sitting through hours of team gymnastics and water polo. It’s most odd.
Clive wrote a couple of weeks ago about how, if golf did make it into the Olympics it should be played to a different format – a Texas Scramble. I’ve also been thinking about how you might spice up Olympic golf and have come up with this:
A last-man-standing contest – Each of the 205 countries competing in the games are allowed one representative. All 205 competitors tee off the first hole in a single group (balls would have to be very clearly marked). The player (or players) who record the worst score at the hole are eliminated and the rest of the field moves on to the second. Again the worst score and ties at that hole will be out and so on until 18 men are left – These are the finalists.
They return the next day for the start of a more stringent elimination examination: 17 different golfing challenges around the Olympic venues to whittle down the field and, eventually, determine the Olympic Champion.
1 – Chipping competition around the gymnastics arena. Each player must fire through the rings, between the parallel bars and over the pommel horse. The player taking the most shots to complete the course is out.
2 – Accuracy test at the archery stadium. Players hit painted balls at the targets and the man with the lowest score after ten attempts is out.
3 – Bunker play at the beach volleyball. Players must extricate their ball from a plugged lie and clear the net while the Brazilian women’s team attempt to put the contestants off. The man who’s most put off is out.
4 – Long drive competition down the Shunyi rowing park. Shortest splash is out.
5 – Cross-Country. I noticed that the cross-country section of the three day eventing was taking place over a golf course (bloody ridiculous). The golfers would have to complete a round on the course (holing out every putt and clearing every fence) in the quickest possible time. Slowest man is out.
6 – Sand-wedge throw. Contested in the main Olympic stadium from the hammer nets. Shortest lob is out.
7 – Lifting the tour bag on the weightlifting stage. Caddies stuff the bag with as many balls and waterproofs as they think their man can manage. The pro then has three attempts to successfully “clean and jerk” the heaviest bag he can. Lowest weight recorded is out.
8 – Fencing. Straight-forward copy of normal fencing but players must compete using a driver. Most stabbed man is out.
9 – Keepy uppy in the boxing ring. Each man takes his turn to see how long he can keep a ball off the ground using his sand wedge. A tough test of stamina this one. Shortest time recorded is out.
10 – Marathon. Players must complete the marathon course in the fewest number of shots possible. Competitors are given an astro-turf mat to play from and there’s a maximum time limit of six hours (buggies are not allowed). The man who takes the most shots is out.
11 – Rhythmic gymnastics. The players must choreograph and perform a routine using clubs, balls, umbrellas or any other equipment they see fit. Judges will score on artistic impression and technical skills. Lowest scoring player is eliminated.
12 – Swimming. The judges chip six balls into the centre of the pool. As soon as the first one breaks the water the seven remaining contestants are off. They dive in and race to collect a ball from the bottom. The man left ball-less at the end of the challenge is out.
13 – Long putting competition at the cycling velodrome. Players must putt from the start line and try to get their ball to travel the maximum possible distance around the track, making use of the banked corners. Shortest distance recorded is out.
14 – High Jump. Players must try to hit a ball as high as possible clearing a bar just ten feet in front of them. Lowest height cleared is out.
15 – Clay Pigeon Shooting. Rather than a gun, players must use just a driver and balls to try and smash the clays. Might be quite tricky this one. Last man to smash a clay is out.
16 – Hockey. Players stand at one end of the pitch and must try to score goals at the other using a six iron. They have 10 attempts and the man with the least goals at the end is out.
17 – Wrestling. The last two contestants compete in a Greco-Roman wrestling match. Beside the wrestling mat is a ball placed on a tee and a waiting driver. The contestants must try to throw or pin their opponent, dazing him enough to give them time to sprint to the tee and hit the winning drive. The man who does will win the gold medal.
Right, enough of this nonsense, I’ve just seen that the final of the women’s small-bore rifle shooting is about to get underway so I’m off.