That was meant as no disrespect as Mark has always been fit and healthy and looking a lot younger than his actual years. He remarked that something strange was happening on the tour, he would go out and play with his usual fourball in the practice rounds, Wayne Grady, Ian Woosnam, Sam Torrance, Ken Brown etc. They would play for dinner, usually meeting in the bar before heading to the dining room. Normal consumption would look like a beer in the bar and maybe share one or two bottles of wine over dinner depending on their tee times the following day. They might even have a nightcap in the bar before heading to bed, all very civilised and normal.
It was then that Mark shared his observation, that he noticed for a number of weeks now there were more people in the gym than in the bar. The game was changing. Now in fairness to Mark I’ve never seen him drink more than two half pints of bitter so it wasn’t as if he was pushing the boat out whilst competing at the very highest level. But the needle was moving towards a more athletic sport.
Remember that Tiger had already arrived and was rewriting the fitness books surrounding golf. Fast forward 14 years and golf was introduced into the Olympics, it was officially now an athletic sport. Whilst the jury was out, for the players, in Rio, as to whether or not this was a serious competition. But now that the Tokyo Olympics golf event has been concluded, everybody from Rory to Paul Casey to Justin Thomas really want to be on their National squad’s roster for Paris 2024.
It was Justin Thomas who made the stand out remark regarding athleticism, golf and the Olympics on Twitter last week. Where he said, and I quote directly, “Went into the Olympic village for a nice workout last night. Safe to say there weren’t many athletes fighting me for the 20lb dumbbells!”
Which I found hugely self depreciating, humble and fun. Apparently one of the great comments or retorts that came back to Justin from one of the other athletes from one of the other sports, is that it is clear that golf is a clean sport and doesn’t have a problem with doping or steroids, looking at the size of Justin. Which I love, every sport requires a different physique to perform at that particular disciplines highest level. If you compare gymnasts physique to a weight lifters, a long distance runner’s physique to a sprinter or even a swimmer’s to a diver’s. Everybodies body can find their sport.
Over the last couple of weeks I’m proud to say I’ve become an armchair expert in cycling, handball, gymnastics, triathlon and diving to mention a few. It’s truly a marvel that these athletes put their whole life and soul into preparing for these two weeks of competition.
While Justin didn’t win the gold medal on the course he certainly had a podium with regards to the best tweet. I think it’s great to see some of the wealthiest athletes in the world, especially in golf, taking the time to immerse themselves into the Olympic spirit, where they are competing for competing sake and getting a wider perspective of how other athletes live and train, for the most part without a significant payday. It can only make the elite proponents of the game of golf more balanced and appreciative of what they have.
And as a final observation for any of you that watched the BMX trials, did it look like a bunch of athletes had stolen bikes from a whole load of 5 year olds? (asking for a friend!)