GOLFIKA
GOLF AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES
 
  
  Is golf an olympic game ? The answer is obviously no. But do you know that golf was, in the past, considered as an olympic sport ?
 
It happened twice : first in 1900 in Paris, next in St Louis in 1904. Both Olympic Games were held as sideshows to world's fairs : in Paris with the Exposition Universelle and in St Louis with the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.
 
Paris, 1900.
 
Baron Pierre de Coubertin and the managers of the Exposition were not sharing the same approach on organisation. As a consequence nothing was really very clear and some competitors never knew they were taking part in an Olympic contest.
 
Four different competitions were held in Compičgne, 60 miles north of Paris.
 
The first one (36 holes, stroke play) took place on October, 2nd. It was a Gentlemen's contest. Twelve players competed. The gold medal was won by Charles Sands, USA (US Amateur runner up in 1895) one stroke before Walter Tutherford, GB. Pierre Deschamps, father of french golf, finished 10th.
  
 
 
 
Charles Sands driving.
"La vie au Grand Air", Oct. 1900.
  Golf Olympic Medal.
With courtesy of Bill Anderson.
  
Next day was for the Ladies - a 9 holes stroke play contest. Ten competitors were present. Margaret Abbott (USA) was the winner. The first french player, Mrs Froment-Meurice finished 4th. It has to be noted that it was the first time in the Olympics that women competed.
 
The third, on October the 4th, one was an 18 holes stroke play handicapped tournament and - with regard to modern criteria - cannot be considered as an Olympic event. The winner was Albert Lambert (founder of the Warner-Lambert Pharmacol Co).
 
The last one, a professionnal contest was also played the same day, but only two "french" pros took part to it.
 
St Louis, 1904.
 
Lambert was in charge on organising the Olympic event which was held at Glen Echo Golf Club (founded by his father in Law, Col. George S. McGrew). The only competitors were North-American : 74 Americans and 3 Canadians. Very numerous contests took place, including a putting contest under electric lights, but only two were of Olympic dimension.
 
A team competition on September the 17th : six teams each of ten players were expected but only three were present. The Western Golf Association team won easily.
 
The individual tournament (36 holes, match-play) was held from Monday, September the 19th to Saturday 24th. The Canadian George Lyon, three times Canadian Amateur Champion (later, he will get 5 more titles, for a total of 8) but aged 46, was not the favorite. Nevertheless, he won by 3 & 2 against the Chicagoan Henry C. Egan.
 
London, 1908 ; Anvers, 1920 ; Berlin, 1936.
 
London was the next place where Olympics had to be played. Lord Desborough, president of the London Organizing Olympic Committee was supporting golf in OG and medals were made. But in UK, the Royal & Ancient was (and still is) the true governing body. Opposition rose with the Olympic Committee and finally golf competitions were cancelled.
 
A trial for re-launching golf seems to have existed in Anvers 1920 but without any success.
 
It has to be noted that a "post-olympic" event was held in Berlin in 1936.
 
 
  A commemorative medal (left) and a postcard (front & back) from the post-olympic event.
 
Modern era.
 
Two modern postcards (1996) by J. Lardie, a french artist and postcard editor entitled : "The third death of golf as an olympic game". (With author's courtesy)
Limited ed. to 100 Limited ed. to 50
  
Thanks
 
We would like to hartily thank Professor Dietriech Quanz (from Deutsche Sporthochschule Köln) for kindly sharing his knowledge with us and giving us valuable comments.
  
 A link related to the topic :
  
 
Museum Olympic General information and an access to the library database.
  
 
 
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