Acting on the recommendations put forward by the IOC Executive Board at its meeting two months earlier in Berlin, the members of the International Olympic Committee voted to readmit golf to the Olympic programme on 9 October 2009, the final day of the 121st IOC Session in Copenhagen (DEN).
Like rugby, the other sport that will return to the spotlight at the world’s biggest sporting event, golf – whose first codified rules were drawn up in Scotland in 1754 – has figured on the programme before.
Yet whereas rugby has always been a men’s sport at the Olympics, golf made its first appearance on the programme at Paris 1900 with competitions for both men and women, won by the Americans Charles Sands and Margaret Abbott respectively.
Paris 1900 Olympic Games © IOC
At St Louis 1904 the men’s title was won by Canada’s George Lyon, and while there was no women’s competition this time around, there was a team event, with USA 1 leading an American clean sweep from USA 2 and USA 3.
Absent from the Olympic programme for the next 108 years, golf will finally make its full Olympic comeback in Rio, where both men’s and women’s strokeplay events featuring four rounds of 18 holes will be held.
The Youth Olympic Games will prepare the ground for golf’s grand return, just as it did at Innsbruck in January 2012, when freestyle skiing halfpipe, snowboard slopestyle and women’s ski jumping figured on the YOG programme in a dress rehearsal for their full Olympic debuts at Sochi 2014.
Three separate 54-hole competitions will be held at the Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club: men’s and women’s individual events and a unique mixed team event. In total, 64 players will be taking part: 32 men and 32 women.
The format for the individual competitions is strokeplay, with the leaders going out last in the third and final round and the player shooting the lowest cumulative score for the three rounds being declared the winner.
The mixed team event will be contested by 16 pairs made up of one male and one female player from the same NOC if possible, or from two NOCs if not. The team with the lowest cumulative score over the three rounds will be declared the winner.
Michelle Wie, Nanjing 2014’s golf ambassador
The young golfers in Nanjing will have US champion golfer Michelle Wie on hand to advise and support them as they make their Olympic debuts. Now 24 and a successful professional player, Wie set a number of records during her stunning junior and amateur careers. “I hope to teach youngsters to have fun playing their sport, to be competitors, to fight for what they want and to understand the importance of having a dream,” she says.