I’m writing this having just watched Team GB be comfortably beaten by Fiji in the final of the Olympic Rugby 7s.
Prior to that, I caught a bit of the men’s C2 canoeing; the final set of Andy Murray’s last 16 match with Fabio Fognini (below); the women’s double sculls with the magnificent Katherine Grainger picking up yet another medal; the track cycling (we Brits continue to be superb at that); and now I’m watching the mixed doubles badminton. Britain are beating China and I’m becoming as engrossed in it as I was in the men’s 3m synchronised diving last night.
There was something oddly uplifting about seeing Adilson da Silva hitting the first Olympic golf shot in over a century, (below). It wasn’t exactly ‘Moon landing’ significant but, watching it, it felt like you were taking in something historic, something special.
It felt good, too. After all all the cynicism, the sneering, the scoffing and the sarcasm about golf’s reinstatement to the Games, it was nice to watch something that was pure and innocent, something that sport at the highest level has the capacity – although, in this age of rampant commercialism and self-promotion, rarely the opportunity – to be.
As I write, there are still three rounds of the men's golf competition to be played and, as a result, it’s too soon to hail golf’s return to the Games as an unlikely success. But that’s what it will be if it is, indeed, a triumphant reintroduction: unlikely.
Read more -> Fraser leads as Rose steals show with hole-in-one
There have been more obstacles to overcome than you’d find staring down a hurdler. High-profile players have stayed away, scared of mosquitoes officially (and of upsetting their sponsors unofficially). The format has been rightly condemned. The reshuffling of the schedule to accommodate the Games has been bewailed. And the mere notion of professionals being allowed to compete has provoked the misdirected ire of many who are clearly either ignorant or oblivious to the fact that only one sport in Rio - wrestling - remains the exclusive preserve of amateurs. Times have changed, folks. It’s a redundant argument. Move on.
"Martin Kaymer has said this is 'really one of the best weeks of my career'"
None of that feels like it matters too much now, though. Not now that Olympic golf is finally here. It’s no longer relevant who’s not playing; only who is and, by all accounts, those who have bothered to take part are loving the experience. Just ask Martin Kaymer. The German has been world No.1, won two majors, claimed the Players Championship, shot a 59 – and yet this, he says, is “really one of the best weeks of my career”.
The course, above, looks excellent and, importantly, will become a public ‘pay and play’ facility when the Games is over. However, most significantly of all, golf is being watched by millions and millions of people around the world who have never seen it before. How can I be so sure? Put it this way: on Monday, I’d never heard of Daniel Goodfellow. Now, I feel like I know him well enough to call him ‘Dan’.
Golf in the Olympics isn’t perfect but who really expected it to be? Rio was always going to be an awkward first date. Yet even at this early stage, there are some signs of a promising relationship blossoming.
"It's new, it's different, it's fun - and I hope it's here to stay"
The Superbowl can make all the extravagant adverts and pompous claims that it likes. The truth is that the Olympics is the greatest show in sport – and I am absolutely loving golf being a part of it.
It’s new, it’s different, it’s fun. My only hope is that it’s here to stay.
Anyway, back to the badminton, where we’re no longer beating China and I'm down to my last fingernail.
I’m just going to say it: Russell Knox should be on the European Ryder Cup team. Not because he’s Scottish. Not because he won last weekend. Because he (a) has earned the right and (b) is comfortably one of the top 12 European golfers on the planet right at this moment. Don’t do anything silly now, Darren Clarke.
This week I have been… amused and bemused by the sad, joyless souls who have waved dismissive hands at the 58 carded by Jim Furyk during the final round of last week’s Travelers Championship. “It’s not that big a deal,” they have contended. “He did it on a par-70 course.” Missing the point much? Irrespective of the configuration of the layout, he went round it in 58 blows. Fifty-eight. If you think that requires an asterisk, you require a CAT scan.
A lot of people have theories about how to get more kids playing golf. More still talk about the need to do so (because that’s what the situation requires, apparently: more talking). However, a Scottish company is arguably doing more than anyone or anything else in the UK to combat the issue. Irvine-based Golphin Ltd has revolutionised the junior equipment market, with its superb range of golf clubs designed specifically for kids.
Not content with that, it is also going above and beyond by taking the game into schools and by creating a book full of fun games that are designed to introduce very young children to golf away from the intimidating, borderline prohibitive environment of ‘made for adults’ courses. Their products are superb and their intentions even better. If you’ve got little ones you want to introduce to golf, I can’t recommend them highly enough. Log-on to golphin.co.uk for more details.
And finally… In this blog two weeks ago, I wrote about Scottish Golf’s decision to leave Ailsa Summers, above, out of the Women’s Home Internationals team. Specifically, I took issue with the reasons provided for her omission by performance director Steve Paulding. They were, in my words, ‘absolute rubbish’.
Predictably, this didn’t go down well with the establishment. I’m told Paulding was ‘disappointed’ with my piece - and so he should have been. I hope he’s even more disappointed with the fact that Scotland finished last (yet again, for the fifth year on the spin) at the Women’s Home Internationals last week. I hope that, if he is so averse to criticism, he’ll consider standing down from the selection committee. But, to be honest, I hope that he’ll do away with selectors altogether and implement a robust qualification process whereby the teams pick themselves.
There’s a lot that could be written about the way women’s amateur golf has been going in Scotland over the last few years. That’s a longer discussion and I’ll bide my time to discuss it another day. But, in the context of this year’s Women’s Home Internationals, Paulding & Co. got it wrong – and, believe me, it gives me no satisfaction to be proven right about that.
Michael McEwan / The Cut Line
Log-on every Friday morning to read The Cut Line, a weekly blog by bunkered's Michael McEwan.