Monday, 25 August 2008

No golf at the games? Let's find a place for Olympic Swingers

Defending Olympic Champ George Lyon from Canada, has resisted calls to defend his title, not after last time. He turned up to defend in 1908, they hadn't told him there would be no golf. Plus, he's dead now, an important factor in the decision not to compete.

You see some damn silly things at the Olympics don’t you. Synchronised swimming, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Power Walking, Hazel Irvine, the list goes on. But one thing notable for its absence is the great game of Golf. Not since 1904, has there been a pitching wedge in evidence at the biggest sporting event in the world. Campaigns are under way to have golf take the place of softball in London 2012 (yes softball is an Olympic “sport”) but is there really a place for it at the games?


What the Olympics are all about is the relentless repetition of one sole action under rigid conditions and being the one to fail least at performing it. Golf is clearly too much of a proper sport, requiring a real tactical nous to succeed. Shooting, archery, that’s the sort of thing is what the people really want to see. Perhaps it’s time that Olympic Organisers looked to the daughter sports which have recently spawned from the game of golf, championed by like-minded individuals who saw Golf as too inventive a game for them. Thus we sidestep all this furore every four years, Tiger Woods doesn’t need to go unpaid at another tournament which will please him no end and we get us the single skill majesty we all crave of the Olympics.


Flat Course Putting – a specially built indoor putting arena with perfectly flat carpet mats as the course. The aim being to putt a ball into a regulation size hole 25 feet away over a billiard table surface; with the focus being the monotonous repetition of one stroke. Based on the scoring systems used in clay pigeon shooting, each competitor would have 100 putts, highest conversion rate winning in what should be a gripping spectacle.


Big Dog Javelin – the aim here is to use a driver to hit a ball as far as they possibly can within the confines of a 30 degree wedge emanating from the tee. Furthest Legal shot wins. It further borrows from the javelin set up, with three qualifying shots, with the top eight getting three more. The Happy Gilmore run up option is available for those willing to sacrifice accuracy for greater length but if competitors step over the line on the tee box it shall be called a foul, so tactics do come into play.


Pitching Wedge Archery – a 5 foot target is drawn 60 yards away from the competitors who must then use a pitching wedge to get as close to the centre of target as possible. Concentric rings on the target mark out points scored from 1 for the outer ring to a possible 10 for the gold centre (it’s not called the bullseye in archery or in it’s pitching wedge brethren). Use of holes in the centre is frowned upon as a poor shot may pitch in it luckily when it would have been ten foot by, this game doesn’t reward jammy play. Any similarities to that game on Tiger Woods on the Xbox are purely coincidental.


Seven Iron Marathon Borrowing from the urban golf game which many are lobbying to get Olympic status (at least in my house they are) players must guide a leather bean bag ball around a Marathon course using only a seven iron. Players take mats with them to tee up on, but must carry them themselves, and shortening of the course by pitching over kerbs etc is prohibited. Players will be accompanied by scorers who will monitor the number of strokes they perform and ensure they hit the apex of each turn and no corners are cut. GPS technology may be employed to stop cheats. A serious endurance event, a change of golf glove will be permitted at halfway, but no club changes are allowed, a good Marathon Man takes care of his seven iron.


Performance Swinging – The Gala event of Golf spin offs. Using the scoring principles of Diving and Gymnastics, competitors perform golf swings without striking a ball and are judged seemingly arbitrarily by an anonymous panel of judges. Male Swingers perform in Vests, shorts and plimsolls to allow judges a fuller view of the competitors movements; Ladies compete in hotpants.


Points are awarded upon the basis of style, grace, form, athleticism and “the judges whims”. The plane angles of the swing are crucial, with harsh penalties for those who are slightly off-line, with particular concern given to evidence of “wristy” swings. Swing exercises on the high beams can go wrong with severe injuries commonplace. Good finishing postures are essential, each with their own difficulty quotient eg. copying of Jack Nicklaus’ signature ‘reverse C’ is seen these days as a lazy option and scores lowly with a DQ of 2.4.


Competitors can enter the Woods class, Long Irons, Short Irons and the hotly contested putting class, where ever more divided classes such as belly putting, broomhandle putting, unconventional grip putting have created massive new interest in the sport. An overall winner is also awarded, with a final team competition, which America have unexpectedly struggled to be competitive in recently, despite a glut of excellent Performance Swingers. A musical exhibition of Performance swinging at the end of competition could be a potential centrepiece for the games in years to come.

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