Folks who pushed for golf's return to the Olympic program have lobbied to skeptics inside the sport that exposing the game to a global audience can do nothing but good for its worldwide growth.
That impact has to be felt at a local level, too, in Brazil and, specifically, host city Rio de Janeiro. Olympic golf course superintendent Nick Cleverly realizes this is part his charge, too, in making the course a beacon to Brazilians to take up a game that is almost exclusively for the wealthy in the South American giant.
"Golf here is for the wealthy," Cleverly said Tuesday. "Street level golf doesn't exist. And this is where I come in, this is part of my job: I want to bring junior golf to this golf course because without junior golf, golf isn't going to survive in Brazil."
Prior to the arrival of the Olympics, Rio only had four courses to speak of, offering little opportunity for the average person to even become interested in the game. Then again, as Rio faces an economic downturn that has bled into civil unrest and protests over the lack of economic opportunities, golf isn't really all that important. Cleverly realizes he faces an uphill battle, but it's an absolute must.
"The challenges will continue because you have got to change the mindset of local people, get them off the street, get the kids out of the favelas ... and bring them to golf," Cleverly said.
"If we don't, it's all for nothing."
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