After more than a century, golf is back at the Olympics, but why?
SEATTLE -- After a 112 year hiatus, golf is making it’s way back to the Olympics.
Trivia buffs out there might exclaim: What in the name of H. Chandler Egan?
Egan was a famous amateur golfer at the turn of the 20th century. He also designed the West Seattle golf course.
Egan, a Harvard man, won a silver individual medal and gold team medal in golf in the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis. That's the last time golf was at the Olympics.
Why golf and why now?
"It seems to me, because the Olympics are all about spectacle. It isn't about competition primarily. It’s spectacle that drives a lot of emotion and passion and that produces TV ratings. And all of that is why they decided to invite golf back in the Olympic circle because it’s going to be a spectacle a novelty that people will tune in a little bit for," says Art Thiel of SportspressNW.com.
This will be only the third time golf has been in the Olympics.
Not that the best of the best find that at all intriguing.
"I think there is a curiosity to it, but because of the withdrawal of so many big names it’s likely to be just a curiosity," said Jeff Shelley, a golf writer and publisher. "Nobody has played the course. Because of the ownership snafus down there and all the legal actions against the development, they are just finishing it up. So they were planning originally to have a test match there a year ago, but the course was just getting greened."
So why aren't the best playing?
The Zika scare has been mentioned.
"Rather than be unpatriotic or uncooperative, they can hide behind the Zika scare," Thiel says.
And then of course.. There’s the prize money. There isn't any.
Some golfers at West Seattle think it is about the money. And some doubt we'll see golf at future Olympics.
Shelley and Thiel think the Olympics made a mistake by not making it a team competition so that it could be a sort of Ryder Cup event.
Back in 1904, there was a team and individual competition. Egan competed in both.
Egan died at the young age of 51, after he designed the West Seattle course but before he could play on it.
Editor's note: Allen Schauffler has covered seven Olympic Games, Summer and Winter, reporting from Sydney, Salt Lake City, Athens, Torino, Beijing, Vancouver and London. During the Rio Games he’ll report from Seattle, offering a variety of stories featuring local Olympic athletes and families. They will run on KOMO News at 6 every weeknight.
For more news on the Rio Games, go here.