With all the hype around the 2014 Winter Olympics, it has served as a reminder that the greatest game ever played will be making its way back to the Olympics during the summer of 2016.
Traveling back in time to 1900, when the second-ever Olympics took place in Paris, France, 28 nations were represented and golf was one of the 75 games that were to be played. During this time the medals would be won by the men over two 18-hole rounds and the women competed in nine-hole tournament. An American by the name of Charles Sands took home Gold in 1900 with scores of 82-85. He would also compete in Tennis that same year and again in 1908.
For the women, Margret Abbott took home the Gold medal with a score of 47 over nine holes, becoming the first American woman to win a Gold medal. Interestingly enough she was under the assumption she was playing in the Ladies Amateur Championship of Paris. She passed away before she even knew that she had actully won an Olympic Gold medal.
Golf made its way back to the games in 1904, when 77 young professional golfers (74 Americans and 3 Canadians) competed. Canadian George Lyon brought home the gold this year, which was quite a triumph considering the number of American competitors in the event that year. Golf was supposed to be present at the 1908 games, but after some disputes over eligibility, all the local golfers ended up withdrawing. George Lyon was offered the gold medal by default but refused to accept it. In 1920, golf was attempted again, but ended up being scrapped due to a lack of interest. The Olympic committee formalized some provisions the following year that stated a sport must be played in at least 40 countries, and have an International governing body to even be considered for the Olympics.
Margaret Abbott – Getty Images
Over a century later, we have roughly 30 months to wait until Golf makes its great return to the Olympic Games (but only two weeks until NCCGA Regional Tournament play begins). For the 2016 competition, held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, we will see at least 30 countries represented in both men’s and women’s competition. The top 15 players in the Official World Golf Ranking and Rolex World Ranking will automatically qualify for the tournament. Each country that has a player among the top-15 is allowed no more than 4 players to represent them. The teams without a player in the top-15 may select up to 2 of their highest ranked players. In the proposed format, the men and the women will play a 72-hole individual stroke play tournament. The lowest score will earn the gold medal for not only themselves, but also for their country. It will be very interesting to see who ends up competing in Rio come August 2016, but regardless who wins, it is amazing to have golf return to the Olympic Games.
Rio De Janeiro – Host of the 2016 Summer Olympics