Fairway Life

RIO DE JANEIRO VS. SAINT LOUIS: WHAT CHALLENGES WILL WE FACE?

Feb 02, 2017

Golf will be in the Summer Olympics again this year for the first time since 1904 when it was hosted in Saint Louis, Missouri. This year, the Olympics will be held in an entirely different environment in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during their winter. Although many aspects of the game have changed since 1904, the deciding factor of who will take home the gold this year coincides with the same challenges that players faced over 112 years ago.

1904: Saint Louis, MO

Golf Course: Glen Echo Country Club

Size: Par 71 and 6200 yards

Weather: Rainy, windy, and cold

In 1904, the Olympic Golf Games were held at Glen Echo Country Club in Saint Louis, Missouri, where only men competed in the competitions. Disorganized and faced with torrents of terrible weather— the Olympic Golf Games in 1904 were infamously known to be somewhat of a mess. The golf course that the Olympic Golf teams played on was built specifically for the Olympic Games and it was the first course west of the Mississippi.

Glen Echo Country Club has a Par 71 course that was 6,200 yards at the time of the games in 1904. Designed by the U.S. Open Champion of 1896, Jim Foulis, the course was noticeably built with golf champions in mind. The course was built to be challenging, with versatile fairways and greens. The course itself, however, was not what presented the challenge to the players who competed on this course in 1904—it was the weather.

During the September days of the golf competitions, rain cascaded from the sky with strong winds blowing across the fairways. This rendered the long drives difficult during the final match between a crowd favorite, Chandler Egan, and established professional, George Lyon. The rain began at tee off in the morning and persisted through the afternoon. Despite the punishing weather, a large crowd still followed along in the pouring rain and cheered on as George Lyon outplayed Chandler Egan on the rain-soaked fairways.

2016: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Golf Course: Reserva de Marapendi Golf Course

Sixe: Par 71 and 7,128 yards (men), 6,245 yards (women)

Weather: Dry and Windy

This year, the Olympic Golf Games will be held at the golf course at Reserva de Marapendi in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Although it’s called the Summer Olympics, the Games will commence during Brazil’s winter during their dry and windy months. Unlike in the 1904 Olympics, both men and women will compete for the gold this time around with 6,245 yards for women instead of the 7,128 for men.

The Reserva de Marapendi was designed by Gil Hanse, who has spent over two years in Brazil working out external factors that were not expected in this build. The course had to be built with the environmental caveats of Brazil in mind. There was once a mining operation, a sand quarry and a more environmentally focused section of land that had to be considered, along with the weather conditions of the area.

The course was designed to handle the typical, strong winds of Brazil during this season. If the wind blows like it normally does, the course will still be a strong challenge but it will prove to be easier if the wind is calmer than expected. Current forecasts predict winds less than 10 mph during the days of the golf competitions and no rain but nothing is certain.

Although the location, golf outfits and rules of the game have changed over time, the players are yet again faced with the same challenge of playing their best through less-than-ideal weather conditions. Some players adjust to different golfing environments and unfamiliar courses better than others. Although Rickie Fowler may be a big fan favorite who’s expected to bring home a medal just like Chandler Egan was back in the day, history could quite possibly repeat itself and have a savvy veteran like Matt Kuchar come in and take the win.

Want to support our team in the Olympics? Check out the full line of limited edition Team USA apparel here.