Ten Facts About The 1904 Olympic Golf Competition

The trophies available at the 1904 Olympic Golf competition (Image courtesy Glen Echo Golf & Country Club)
The trophies available at the 1904 Olympic Golf competition (Image courtesy Glen Echo Golf & Country Club)
The trophies available at the 1904 Olympic Golf competition (Image courtesy Glen Echo Golf & Country Club)

by Scott MacLeod, Associate Publisher

There was a bit of discussion this week on social media about golf at the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis. With the return of the sport to the world-wide games later this summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil there is sure to be more of it in the days leading up to the competition.

Many, mostly Canadians, are aware that the individual gold medalist in 1904, the last official Olympic golf competition, was George S. Lyon. But for most that is the extent of their knowledge.

With all that in mind I thought I would throw out ten facts about the 1904 golf competition – just in case you need to sprinkle a nugget or two around in the days to come. As a bonus, I’ll tell you this – there were two other International type gatherings after St. Louis that were similar to an Olympiad and included golf – the 1919 Inter-Allied Games in Paris in 1919, and a post-Olympic competition in 1936 in Baden-Baden, Germany.

In advance I’ll let you know that these did not come from the top of my head. We have Georges Jeanneau and the Federation Francaise de Golf to thank. Jeanneau created a nice volume on golf in the Olympics back in 2003. He did so in hopes that golf would return to the Olympic Games in 2012…if they were held in Paris.

London, England, of course, won the bid as became the host that year.

1904 Olympic Golf Facts

  1. The 1904 Olympics took place from July 1st to November 23rd with the golf events being hosted from September 16th to 24th.
  2. The Glen Echo Country Club played host but had only been open three years by the time the games started. James Foulis, the 1896 U.S. Open Champion designed it.
  3. Six teams (of ten players each) entered the team competition but only 2 showed on September 17th for the first day of the 36-hole event. A third team called “U.S.G.A” was put together hastily and included spectators and friends of players. They finished 3rd, by a lot, but won a bronze medal anyway.
  4. There were 72 Americans and three Canadians entered in the individual competition. Players from Scotland, Britain, France and Australian were signed up but none of them showed.
  5. There was a $5 entry fee for all the players in the individual competition and they had to prove they were an amateur golfer in good standing.
  6. In the 36-hole qualifying it took a score of just 183 to qualify for the 32 spots available for the matches.
  7. There were non-medal competitions for driving and putting; a special 9 hole putting course lit with incandescent lamps was built for the event – it was held at night.
  8. The three Canadians participating in the games – George S. Lyon, Albert Austin, and Adam Austin, all represented the Lambton Golf & Country Club.
  9. In the team competition no single player broke 80 on the par 71, 6235-yard course.  Only two scored in the 70’s during the stroke play qualifying for the individual event – Henry Chandler Egan (78) and Daniel Sawyer (79).
  10. George S. Lyon had 3 birdies on his card for the first 5 holes in the final 36 hole match with Henry Chandler Egan. They were his only holes where he scored under par on his way to a 3&2 victory and Olympic Gold…and history.