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Golf Gazette: After 112 years, golf returns to the Olympics

The last time golf was featured as an Olympic sport was at the 1904 Games held in St. Louis, and a lot has changed since then. 

For instance, in 1904 there were 94 events held at the Olympics. This year’s Olympics, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will include 306 events. In 1904, competition was held in 16 sports. This year there will be 28 sports.

St. Louis hosted 651 Olympic athletes. Rio will be host to 10,500. And, by the way, of the 651 Olympians in St. Louis, 645 were men.

Thank you Title IX, which allows equal rights to women to participate in all sports. Can you believe it took until 1972 to get it right?

And if you get this one, I’ll buy you a pint. In what sport in the 1904 Olympics were gold medals won by Americans Patrick Flanagan, Sidney Johnson, Oscar Olsen, Conrad Magnusson and Henry Seiling? No Googling, now.

If you said the tug of war, I owe you a pint. And if you contact me to collect, someone’s pants are on fire. I wonder if those guys made the Wheaties box.

In 2009, the International Olympic Committee, with the help of golf professionals Padraig Harrington of Ireland, Michelle Wie of the United States, Suzann Petterson of Norway and 2009 British Amateur champion Matteo Manassero of Italy agreed to bring golf to the 2016 Games.

A total of 60 players will qualify in each of the men’s and women’s events based on the world rankings as of July 11. After that, figuring out exactly who will be playing golf in August at the Campo Olimpico de Golfe Course gets a little too complicated for your golf guy.

Hey, give me a break! It took me three tries to pass the geometry regents.

Anyway, somehow the field will be whittled down before the first tee shot on Aug. 11 and we will get to see some of the world’s top golfers going at it with the hope of earning medals for their home countries.

Unfortunately, many top golfers, along with other athletes, are taking a pass at this year’s Olympics due to the Zika virus. There are other areas of concern in Rio, but the virus is leading the way for those opting out.

You know me, your curious golf reporter had to ask a few sports fans what they thought about golf returning as an Olympic sport, and here’s what they had to say:

Catherine Brabazon of Greenport: “It’s no surprise many golfers, both men and women, are choosing to pass on playing in the Olympics this year. I feel it’s bad timing and with what has been going on in Brazil, if enough golfers drop out this might leave golf out of the Olympics in the future.”

David Fujita of Southold: “I’m very excited to see golf showcased on a global stage. Bringing golf back to the Olympics will only help grow the game at home and abroad.”

Michael Taylor, who is visiting the North Fork from Sydney, Australia: “Golf in the Olympics should only be for amateur golfers. The event means very little for professionals. The Olympics would be much more significant and exciting for the world of amateur golf. It would be the pinnacle of any amateur golfer’s career to win a medal as opposed to just another feather in the cap for the professional golfer.”

Catherine Brabazon of Greenport picks the ball out of the cup after acing her first hole-in-one on the third hole at Island's End Country Club in Greenport. (Credit: Jay Dempsey)
Catherine Brabazon of Greenport picks the ball out of the cup after acing her first hole-in-one on the third hole at Island’s End Country Club in Greenport. (Credit: Jay Dempsey)

Tee times

A few days after getting the above quote from Catherine Brabazon, my wife, Jean, and I shared a round of golf with her. On the third hole at Island’s End Country Club in Greenport, using her 9-iron, Catherine made her first-ever hole-in-one.

Jean and I were more excited than the cool-as-a-cucumber Catherine.

Kenny Weinstein of Sandy Pond Golf Course in Riverhead reported a hole-in-one on the second hole by Kristen Gordon, who used a pitching wedge to make her ace. Tom Hall of Cutchogue holed out on the seventh hole at Island’s End using his 5-iron.