Eric Bolte/Golf Canada Gordon M. Nixon (left), president and chief executive officer of RBC, and Scott Simmons, chief executive officer of Golf Canada, pose with the Olympic Golf Trophy at Hamilton Golf and Country Club.
The last time an Olympic golf trophy was awarded in 1904, the great Bobby Jones was 2 years old and golfers were just starting to use grooved-faced irons. That’s 108 years ago.
So a rare piece of history was on display this week at the RBC Canadian Open, when the trophy awarded to Canadian George Lyon, the last Olympic golf gold medalist, was brought to Hamilton Golf & Country Club in Ancaster, Ontario.
The sterling silver trophy cup stands about 1 1/2-feet tall and resides at the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Museum at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario.
Lyon won the trophy — and gold medal — by beating reigning U.S. Amateur champ, American H. Chandler Egan, 3 and 2, at Glen Echo Country Club in Normandy, Mo., just north of St. Louis — site of the 1904 Olympic Games.
Lyon, an insurance salesman, apparently knew he had pulled off a huge upset at the time.
According to research by Golf Digest, Lyon celebrated his victory by walking through the clubhouse dining room on his hands. But due to the absence of many of the game’s top golfers at the time, he also said, “I am not foolish enough to think that I am the best player in the world,” Lyon told the Toronto Star, according to Golf Digest, “but I am satisfied that I am not the worst.”
Golf was an Olympic sport only twice — in 1900 and 1904. Men’s individual and women’s individual events took place in 1900 while men’s individual and men’s team events were on the 1904 docket.
In 1900 in Paris, American Charles Sands won the men’s individual gold while American Margaret Ives Abbott won the women’s gold. In 1904, Lyon took gold while the Americans swept gold, silver and bronze in the team event.
Golf returns to the Olympics in 2016 in Rio. The format of the event is yet to be determined.