The announcement back in 2009 that the sport of golf would be an Olympic Games inclusion from 2016 onwards caused widespread angst. The withdrawal, then, of the sport’s biggest names in the final lead-up to its return to the Olympics has caused utter outrage.
Not only has the Olympic movement not got Tiger Woods in its ranks, like it had planned way back when, it won’t have a host of the sport’s other biggest names, either. Aussie megastars Jason Day and Adam Scott, as well as Northern Irish hero Rory McIlroy, have all withdrawn, citing a range of reasons such as schedule clashes and the threat of the Zika virus. Australian Marc Leishman and Fiji's Vijay Singh have been other scratchings. The elephant in the room was shot by McIlroy a few weeks back, when he opined that many of the golfing withdrawals from Rio were due to, yep, just as we thought, a lack of interest in winning a gold medal.

"Most athletes dream of competing in the Olympics," he said. "We dream of winning Claret Jugs and Green Jackets,” he said earlier this year.

But before the sporting stratosphere shoots down golf and kicks it out of the Olympiad before it even gets going (this is actually golf’s second Olympic stint, having been at the Games 112 years ago), its stars need to be given a chance to embrace the Games. Further, it should be given the same chances tennis was afforded.

As Steve Keipert has written in the August edition of Inside Sport, when tennis was re-admitted to the Olympics in 1988, the turn-out by its top players was poor. “Flair-less Czech Miloslav Mecir defeated American Tim Mayotte for the gold in Seoul, while Steffi Graf ‘rescued’ tennis’ Olympic reprisal by toppling Gabriela Sabatini during her Golden Slam season,” writes Keipert. “It was a muted return, but momentum soon grew.”

Backing my fellow staffer’s point up is the fact players the calibre of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will fight it out for the men's singles gold medal at Rio 2016, while no less than Serena Williams heads a star-studded women’s side of the draw.

It took time, but eventually tennis’ biggest names grew tired of watching some of their colleagues strut around with gold medals hanging from their necks - and wanted in. Golfers are no different. They’re a competitive bunch. They’ll embrace the Olympics. Just give them time … You don’t reckon they’ll be flocking to golf-mad Japan in four years?