Golf took more than a hundred years, starting with a communication problem in 1908, to return to the Summer Olympics arena from Rio 2016.

Golf entered the Olympics for the first time, right in the second – Paris 1900. And it was a smooth debut, closing the curtain with American player Charles Sands taking the gold after 36 individual holes, and compatriot Margaret Abbot winning nine. female pit.

Four years later in St. Louis, Missouri, when the US hosted the Olympics, the Organizing Committee removed the women’s event and added a male team. At that time, Canadian player George Lyon won the gold medal, and the host won the whole team award, besides silver and bronze individually.

Female golfers compete at the 1900 Paris Olympics. Photo: Kishimoto

Female golfers competed at the 1900 Paris Olympics. Photo: Kishimoto

Until the 1908 Olympics, golf was still in the official competition program. The Olympic Games that year were scheduled to take place in Rome, but were later brought to England due to hostilities Italy being caught in the Vesuvius volcanic disaster. At that time, the British Olympic Committee (BOC) confirmed that they had sent a letter to Royal & Ancient (R&A) – the world organization that manages and develops golf – to announce the operation of this sport itself. However, the letter did not reach the R&A.

BOC, although not knowing the response from the management unit, still carried out the work. They plan to organize a six-round golf tournament divided equally among three courses. Such a 108-hole journey exceeded the standard of the previous two periods, so the R&A did not agree when it was heard.

Before the complicated story, many British golfers also submitted invalid registration papers. This incident inadvertently made experts think of an underground boycott. However, the PGA Tour explained that the problem was caused by “misinterpretation or disagreement over the definition of ‘amateur player’ in the rules”.

In the end, only defending champion George Lyon was legally eligible and became the only player in golf at the third Olympics. The organizers still offered to award the gold medal, but Lyon did not accept it. At this point, Olympic golf is seen as stopping. Because 108 years later, it reappeared in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for Justin Rose to take the gold medal.

For more than a century, golf should have made a comeback in the mid-1990s.

When hosting Atlanta 1996, the American Olympic Committee (ACOG), as the host, had the right to propose a new sport. The head of the Organizing Committee of the Olympics that year was Billy Payne, who later became the President of the Augusta National Stadium – the exclusive venue for major Masters since 1934.

To prepare to bring golf back, ACOG since October 1992 negotiated with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which proposed to choose the Augusta National course. This is also said to be “revolutionary”, giving women the opportunity to compete on the notoriously tight and picky court that they could not enter before because of the no-female policy. It was not until August 2012 that Augusta National accepted two female members for the first time, including former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and businessman Darla Moore.

Augusta National had the opportunity to host golf at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, but was rejected by the local government.  Photo: AP

Augusta National had the opportunity to host golf at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, but was rejected by the local government. Photo: AP

Progress was smooth because both R&A and peer organization the American Golf Association (USGA) enthusiastically supported. They fixed the 72-hole stroke play format with a maximum of three players per country, both male and female.

However, the Atlanta City Council (ACC) has not yet nodded. Due to holding the final decision, this faction must approve, golf will have access to Atlanta 1996. The IOC section approved then is only procedural.

The ACC has long opposed Augusta National’s inequality policy. At the time of the stadium, the stadium had only one black member, no female members. This is contrary to the Olympic mission statement, which has equal value.

Finally, 1996 Atlanta has no new sport, including golf.

When London was awarded the right to host the 2012 tournament, golf had hope again. Seven years earlier, baseball and softball had been dropped from the program. It is an opportunity for other subjects, especially those originating in the UK. But support in London 2012 was not strong enough, so golf did not even pass the preliminary round when competing with three other sports. Squash (tennis) and karate ranked above golf, but were eliminated in the final round.

Thanks to the clever campaign of the International Golf Federation (IGF) – using the great pair of golfers Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam as a marketing trump card, golf has a chance to return to the vote of confidence in October 2009. with the time of official integration at Rio 2016.

But before the opening ceremony, golf had bad luck. The Zika virus raging in Brazil puts the host at risk of breaking the event, similar to Tokyo 2020 with Covid-19 today.

But finally Rio 2016 still took place, golf officially reunited with the Olympics after 112 years. But the medal contest lacked a number of the world’s top players: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day, Shane Lowry, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Adam Scott. They were afraid of Zika, so they soon announced their withdrawal.

Justin Rose is excited to win the gold medal in men's singles golf at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo: AP

Justin Rose is excited to win the gold medal in men’s singles golf at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo: AP

By Tokyo 2020, the list of golf medalists includes 120 players divided equally of both sexes. For men’s content, only 12 players are in the top 30 in the world (OWGR table). OWGR number one golfer Jon Rahm of Spain was eager to attend, but near the departure date, he contracted nCoV like Bryson DeChambeau in the US team. Dustin Johnson – the world’s number two golfer – also did not go to Japan because he wanted to focus on an important front for his long career – the playoff event group of the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour in the hot period after the Olympics.

After Johnson, it was the turn of Tyrrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood to refuse to join the England team, similar to Sergio Garcia for Spain.

And the lack of big stars, the competition index (SOF) of Olympic golf this time at 319, lower than many long-standing PGA Tour events such as the Travelers Championship in June (461), Memorial in March (602), Sony Open earlier this year (341). And because of the low SOF, the golfer who won the Tokyo 2020 gold medal only got 50 OWGR points, equivalent to the Sony Open.

Quoc Huy


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