Olympic Golf Hazards Are They On the Course?
Unusual Environment for Golfing Olympians
The much-maligned Olympic Games are finally here, courtesy of Brazil. No one knows the future of Olympic golf for certain, but it has apparently made the cut this year, and will go on as scheduled. Among the men, the ranks have thinned, but it’s going to happen. Despite the loss of Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, and a host of others, there are still enough men around the world who like to play well enough to chance it. The women have held far more firm, and are attending almost down to the last eligible player.
The golf schedule, in fact, has come out. I guess it had to sooner or later, but it looks like an open invitation for collective protests, some from those who don’t think Brazil is in a financial position to do the Olympic thing right now, and some from those with ecological sensitivity. At any rate, August 11 through 14, the men will play their four rounds. The time listed for starting is 3:00 am. That struck me as rather odd. I have gotten up early to play before, usually due to finding myself in an early-bird oriented group, when I should have sought out the company of night owls. I hope that this listing is either an oversight, or that they are printing it based on an interplanetary time zone, meaning that they start at 7:30 or 8, a civilized time.
The litany of Olympic woes is well-publicized, but with added tidbits in the last week, the collective body of hazards on and around the course appears to be much more intimidating than they once were. Articles abound, describing the encroachment of wildlife onto the course, although in truth, it is more accurate to say that we humans are the intruders. That’s no knock on the game – I’m just saying. The wildlife, in fact, has been largely human, with rampant crime, erratic security forces, political upheaval, sanitary conditions that require a response, and a Zika virus that is still out of control.
Then we come to the real wildlife on a course situated between a well-to-do neighborhood and a nature preserve. A large group of capybara munch on the grass on a daily and nightly basis. Even though they weigh in at 150 pounds, I don’t get the idea that they’re particularly aggressive. The caimans, five-footish crocodiles that inhabit the course ponds, are well-documented, but the sponsors of the Games intend to unleash a five-biologist team to keep them out of the way during play. But wait, there’s more. The course is festooned with three-toed sloths, but they can probably be outrun if necessary. The grounds are rife with monkeys. They are unpredictable, and generally behave in any way they wish. I read now that boa constrictors have a presence. My wife and I were hiking the other day, and she nearly stepped on an angry rattlesnake, so I’m in no mood to hear of snakes on a golf course of any kind. And what about ground-nesting owls? Gorgeous and noble as they are, I have direct experience with a disgruntled owl, and they’re not afraid of anyone.
Why do I envision groups of players with caddies doubling as bodyguards, or the presence of extra personnel in each trio or foursome devoted entirely to security? The Marapendi Nature Preserve is said to possess some of the rarest pines in the world, not to mention rare butterflies found nowhere else. The trees have probably never been hit by a golf ball before. I wonder what they’ll think of that. With the news that Serbian rowers have sunk in foul conditions, it crosses my mind to wonder if the Olympic Committee has surreptitiously put quicksand anywhere around the greens, just as an interesting twist on the game.