Golf’s Short Olympic History

While this ol’ caveman was watching the Olympics last night, I started to contemplate ‘bout why golf ain’t being played in London. So straight to the internets I went to share the history of golf in the Olympics with you.

Golf wasn’t played in the first Olympics in 1896, but was an event four years later in Paris. Since there were no commercial airplanes, few athletes could make the trip. Despite only three representatives playin’, Americans Charles Sands and Margaret Abbott took home the gold in both the men’s and the women’s tournaments. The men played two rounds and the women a nine-hole tournament. Sands scored 167 over 36 holes. Sands also competed in the tennis tournament that year and in the 1908 London games. Abbot and her mother, the writer Mary Perkins Ives Abbot, were already in Paris at the time promoting her mother’s new book. At the time anyone could to apply to play on-site, so both Abbots entered the tournament. Abbot won with 47 over nine holes, but the whole event was so badly organized that many players didn’t know they were playin’ in the Olympics. Abbot died not knowin’ that she was the first American woman to win gold in the Olympics.

The 1904 games were played in St. Louis and the golf event changed to match play and the women’s event was dropped. But, the event was flawed again. There were only three officials for the 74 Americans and three Canadians. 46-year old Canadian  George Lyon won in an upset by beatin’ the U.S. Amateur champ. Lyon’s now considered one o’ Canada’s greatest athletes winnin’ five more Amateur titles after the Olympics.

The 1908 Olympics in London was suppos’d to have golf, but a quarrel ‘tween British golf clubs and the Oympic Council caused all local golfers to withdraw. George Lyon, the only athlete not hailin’ from England, had traveled ‘cross the Atlantic to defend his medal; he showed up and found himself to be the only competitor at all! He was offered the gold medal by default, but in his gracious Canadian manner, refused to accept it.

Golf was again suppos’d to be played in the 1920 games in Antwerp, but had to be dropped cuz of lack of interest (This caveman is befuddl’d that NO ONE in Belgium wanted to hit the links). So 1921, the Olympic Committee decided that for an event to be in the Olympics it must be played in 40 countries and have an international governing body. Sadly golf havin’ two ruling groups, it was barred from play.

So after 112 years, golf will be returnin’ to the Olympics in Rio with America as the reignin’ champs. It will be match play just like in 1904 though there will be a women’s tournament. I can’t wait til I get to see my favorite players competin’ for the gold in 2016.

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