Why Didn’t They Include Golf When The Olympic Games Began In 776 BC?

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Marcus Fraser olympics

Larry Canning Portrait 174

Surprising even himself, Larry Canning has become an expert on the Olympic Games. Even the golf bit of it.

 

 

 

CITIUS, Altius, Fortius sounds very much like my last Nespresso order but it is in fact Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger”; The Olympic motto. It was created by Baron Pierre de Coubertin when the International Olympic Committee kicked off in 1894. I thought you had to have a name starting with “Von” to be a Baron?…anyway, Pierre was the person responsible for firing up the games again after a bit of a break. 1,500 years to be exact.

Why did they have that Olympic hiatus, I hear you ask? Turns out, after the Roman Empire decided to do some extensions and conquered Greece in the mid second century the standard became a little shabby. In one notorious year everyone’s favourite pyromaniac, Nero, entered the Chariot event. He fell out of his rig early in the race but declared himself the winner…because he could.

Not only did this incident obliterate any credibility the Olympics had it also was the last time Chariot racing was an official event at the games, which is a shame. Ever since Charlton Heston won gold in 26 AD it’s always been a favourite of mine.

I don’t remember much about it as I was just a little fella, but I recall the Olympics beginning back in 776 BC. A cook named Coroebus won the only event of the games; a foot race over 192 metres. Slowly over the years, some other sports were introduced like distance running, long jump, javelin, discuss, boxing and of course chariot racing. And my sources tell me the competitors used to perform most of these challenges in the nude! This obviously explains why it took so long for men’s 100 metre hurdles to be introduced into the Games.

When the Olympics were reborn under the direction of the newly formed IOC in 1896, there were all kind of new sports introduced and now we have 43 in total. Well, 42 sports and the Equestrian Dressage.

There have been a few different events that have come and gone from the Games like croquette, rope climbing and believe or not, tug of war. Some even make a comeback like tennis and the reason I’ve been boring you with all this stuff… GOLF.

What did we make of it then? Justin Rose seemed to be over the moon when he made the winning putt and broke into a Tiger like celebration. It was made all the better for me by our very own Marcus Fraser (pictured above) who was leading at the halfway mark. He was still in with a great chance for a medal going into the final round but slipped back into a tie for 5th.

I guess the final hole was pretty exciting with two of the best players in the game locked in the lead. But overall I can’t really say I was glued to the TV anything like I was a couple of weeks later during the US PGA. And I have to say, when I was watching possibly the most unanimated professional golfer on the planet namely Inbee Park, plot her way around the brand new course, I found myself looking for Solitaire on my iPhone.

Inbee Park Olympics 595

I want desperately for golf to be on display in as many forums as possible but I really don’t think the Olympics are doing the game a lot of good. Is it really bringing the golf to other countries and societies? And that beautiful golf course purpose built for this year’s games will surely only be available to play for the rich and infamous and the odd wealthy American or Asian tourist.

The idea of making it an Amateur event only was being bandied around before the games but one would have to think it’s too late for that now. A change of format could help maybe similar to the one being used for this year’s World Cup?

I reckon the next Olympics in Tokyo will be the real test of what the future will be for Golf in the Games. Between you and I, I am more than a little concerned.   

The good news was, I did manage to download the app for Solitaire and it was free!  

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Larry Canning
Larry Canning has been a fixture on the Australian golf scene for more years than he cares to remember. As a tour player, club professional, writer, radio presenter and annoying protagonist. He knows the game, the stories and the people and loves nothing better than to offer up his opinions and yarns on to anyone who wants to listen. As well as his media gigs, Larry also plays the Australasian Legends Tour which means he has access to some true Aussie Legends. Larry’s reports are sometimes quirky, usually very humorous, but always deeply insightful.

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