1904 Olympic Golf Matches
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Click Here for Results from the Gold Medal Competition
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In 1902, George McGrew, with the help of his son-in-law Albert B. Lambert, arranged for an International Golf Championship to be held at Glen Echo in 1903. Lambert was well known in golfing circles around the world, having competed in the 1900 Olympic Golf Matches in Paris, France, winning the handicap event. However, when the 1904 Olympic Games were awarded to St. Louis in 1903, McGrew petitioned the Olympic Committee to permit Glen Echo to host the Golf Event. When they agreed, the original International Golf event was abandoned in favor of hosting the Olympic Golf Matches.
In 1904, with the World's Fair and the Third Olympic Games about to begin, Glen Echo prepared to host the Golf Championship in September 1904. The Club constructed a 9 hole putting course, complete with lights, where a putting championship would be held. Burt McKinnie of Normandie GC defeated Clement Smoot of the Exmoor Club in Chicago for the trophy. The two were tied going into the final hole when Mckinnie sunk his shot, finishing with a score of 21. In addition, a long drive competition was scheduled for both men and women. However, the women's event was cancelled due to lack of participation. Douglas Cadwallader of Springfield, Illinois, drove his ball 238 yards for the longest of the competition, however, it failed to stay within the grid and was not counted. In the end, Chandler Egan, the defending U.S. Amateur Champion from the Exmoor Club, hit his drive 234 yards to take the trophy. Arthur Havemeyer of New York finished second. Ironically, during the final match between Egan and George Lyon, Lyon consistently out-drive Egan. However, Lyon failed to arrive for the driving competition in time to compete.
The event produced Olympic Gold Medal Champion, George S. Lyon of Toronto, Canada. The Olympic Golf matches brought national attention to the beautiful Glen Echo course. On the way to winning the championship, Lyon established a new course record with an 18-hole score of 77. Click Here to Read More about George Lyon, the Gold Medal Man
The final match was played during a significant rain storm, with the course being very wet. With Lyon's prodigious drives, Egan strained to keep up with the Canadian off the tee, leading to many erratic shots. Despite Egan's inconsistent play, Lyon was unable to gain much of a lead over Harvard man, though to those following the match, he appeared to be in complete control. When Egan did appear to gain a foothold and began to draw even with Lyon, the Canadian made a solid play, ending Egan's opportunity. Egan seemed frustrated at the beginning of the final 18 holes, but remained within only two holes of evening the match. In the end, the 15th hole marked the turning point when Egan pulled his tee shot into the lake left of the tee. After losing the hole, Egan stood 2-down with three to play. At the demanding 16th hole, Egan once again hit a poor drive. Following Lyon's tee shot, which found the fairway, all that was left was for Lyon to reach the green in regulation to end the match. When Egan failed to manage par, Lyon tapped in his fourth stroke for a 3 and 2 victory and the only Olympic Gold Medal ever awarded for golf in Olympic History.
The 21-year-old Egan was visibly upset following the loss. Lyon, on the other hand, was exuberant! To celebrate his win he walked across the hall of the Great Room on his hands, showing that at age 46, the former cricket champion was a match for anyone at any age. When his friends asked him if he was of Irish or Scotch descent, he replied. "I'm a wee bit of Irish and a good bit of Scotch." He did not elaborate on whether he was referring to the country or the drink!
In an interview with the Toronto Star, he was asked if this victory indicated that he was the best golfer in the world, Lyon stated the following. "While the winning of this trophy carries with it the title of Champion of the World, I am not foolish enough to think that I am the best golfer in the world, but I am satisfied that I am certainly not the worse!"
Following the conclusion of the games, Lyon made plans to defend his title in London, England at the 1908 games. However, due to significant infighting between the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and the Irish Union, the golf matches were cancelled. Only recently, in the fall of 2009, was golf made part of the Olympic Games. They will make their new debut at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.