For those of us who are old enough to remember when the Olympic Games were held for “amateur” athletes only, the inaugural professional golfers competition in Rio de Janeiro is less than compelling.

Sixty men will play four rounds of individual stroke play with no cut at Reserva de Marapendi from Aug. 11 to the 14th, the Olympic Golf Course, while 60 women will do the same Aug. 17-20 at that site.

The unsanitary conditions throughout Rio de Janeiro apparently scared off some of the world’s best golfers, who used a variety of excuses including the threat of the Zika virus to skip this event. Yes, 40 years from now one man and one woman proudly will display a gold medal to their grandchildren, but with no big payday on the line. It is easy to see why players like Rory McIlroy took a pass on the 2016 Olympics. Randy Hodsdon, who is director of rules and competitions for the Maine State Golf Association, said he appreciates that some “golfers like the concept of participating for their country.” And he thinks it is admirable that many of the world’s pros maintain this approach to the Olympics golf.

“The Olympic Games are not pro sports,” he said of the distant past. “This goes back to the Dream Team, and I’m not for pros in basketball — and not in golf or whatever sport. In the end, I’m not really for it.”

Cy Thompson of Oxford, who is an MSGA player representative for Poland Spring, is in agreement on the subject of amateurs in the Olympics.

“The Olympics should be all amateur athletes,” he said. “But I understand that this is an attempt to promote golf worldwide. And it is a little disappointing that all of the world’s best are not going to be there.”

The greatest argument for the professionals being in golf and many other sports can be summed up in two words — television ratings. If the 60-man and woman fields contained amateurs only, who would watch?

“I would,” Thompson said. “I watch any golf on TV.”

He is in the minority, on that subject, because most people want to see the best in golf, and if they cannot, they change the channel.

David Bartasius, general manager and club pro at Fairlawn, raised significant points about pro golfers bypassing the Olympics. The absence of prize money is the most obvious, but top golfers also have been known to receive “appearance fees” at some tournaments. Apparently there are no appearance fees at the Olympics.

With all the money being spent by NBC, and all the money being taken in by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), to ask the best professional athletes in the world to compete for free in an unhealthy environment probably has made the decision to stay home easy for many golfers and athletes from other sports.

Speirs back in

Mainer Jesse Speirs missed playing in Web.com Tour events for two consecutive weeks because of his status as an alternate. This week he got the call and took his No. 150 rank on the Web.com Tour into the Price Cutter Championship in Springfield, Mo.

Foursome takes 4th

The Maine Chapter of the New England PGA held a Pro-Am Two Best Balls of Four Aug. 8 at Sugarloaf, where the Martindale team of pro Nick Glicos, playing with Andrew Slattery, Caleb Manuel and Evan Glicos finished fourth by carding 72-71–143.

MSGA rolling along

The Maine State Golf Association’s Senior Tour continues Aug. 15 at Martindale. The MSGA’s Match Play Championship will be Aug. 16-18 at Brunswick, and its weekend tournaments are Aug. 19-20 at Natanis. The New England Junior Invitational is being held Aug. 15-17 at the Cochecho Country Club in Dover, N.H.


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