Did you know that golf is coming back to the olympics? It’s one of 33 sports at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, now happening in 2021. As HUGE golf fans, we’re going to explore the history of golf at the Olympics in this post and let you know what to expect at this year’s Games.
The Olympics kick off on July 23, and the golf competition runs from the 29th of July to the 7th of August.
So, is golf in the Olympics?
Yes! Golf is in the Olympics this year. After a brief hiatus, golf is back in the Summer Olympics. Before 2016, 1904 was the last time golf was part of the Olympic program - yes, that’s before women were allowed to play at Opens. To put it another way, that’s 3 years after Australia became a country. Yes, it’s been a while. Let’s review some of the golf history.
The history of golf in the Olympics
Golf has only been in the Olympic program four times including this year. It’s been a tumultuous time for Olympic golfers, but now is the time to get excited about golf!
The IOC reinstated golf in the Summer Olympics in 2016 after their session in Copenhagen in 2009. The qualifications are based on the Official World Golf Ranking and Womens World Golf Rankings with the top 15 of each automatically qualifying, with a limit of four per country.
The first golf tournament at the Olympics was in 1900 in Paris, and was split between a mens and women's golf tournament. The men’s tournament was a 36-hole stroke play event and the women’s was played over nine holes. Charles Sands of the United States won men's gold with rounds of 82 and 85. Margaret Abbott, born in India, shot 47 to become the first American woman to win an Olympic title. Abbott at the time thought she was competing in a regular tournament, rather than the Olympic Games, and received a porcelain bowl instead of an Olympic gold medal for her win.
In comparison, there was no women’s tournament in the 1904 games in St Louis. Instead, there was an individual tournament, where players win, lose or halve holes rather than use total scores, and a team event where the total score of a 36 hole game of 10 people was tallied.
Rio 2016 was the latest golf event at the Olympic Games. Safe to say, women have made a return to the game. It was a dramatic game, with the first round leader, the Thai Jutanugarn, pulling out due to injury, and South Korean champ Inbee Park pulling ahead in the final round to win by five strokes against the world number one, New Zealand’s Lydia Ko. China's Feng Shanshan took the bronze.
What’s so special about the Tokyo olympics?
The Golf portion of the Games in Tokyo will be held on the East Course of the Kasumigaseki Country Club, a private club north-west of Tokyo.
The format of the golf tournament at Tokyo is going to be a little different than Rio, with a 72-hole individual stroke play for both men and women, with events taking place over four days in four rounds.
There are 60 players in each competition, with no elimination. The last two rounds consist of players going out in scoreboard order with leaders teeing off in the final group. If the players in medal places are tied after the 72 holes, a three hole sudden death playoff will decide medallists.
You won’t want to miss this.
How to watch with friends
NBC is the best place to watch the Olympics with friends! Also available are NBC’s streaming options with Peacock and NBC Sports. Get your friends together in your favorite Jofit golf outfit for a fun girls night(s) with plenty to cheer for. Go team USA!
* Image used is from the New York Times