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Brazil hopes golf in Olympics sparks an Arnold Palmer-like boom there

August 10, 2016

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Golf finally returns to the Olympics on Thursday, in Brazil, a place “the history of golf…would fit on the back of a scorecard,” Jim Litke of the Associated Press writes.

“Golf remains a niche sport here, played largely by the rich. But the hope is that the game's return at these Olympics could spark a boom, not unlike the way a swashbuckling young American named Arnold Palmer convinced his countrymen to pick up a club and give golf a go in the 1960s.

“To call that a daunting task, given the current state of the economy, doesn't tell the half of it.”

Brazilian golfer: 'Not one day I didn't think about Olympics'

“At times, Victoria Lovelady has to pause to take it all in. The Olympic Games are in her home country of Brazil, golf has returned to the Olympics for the first time since 1904, and she was fortunate enough to qualify,” ESPN’s Bob Harig writes in this profile of Lovelady.

“When I found out the Olympics was going to be in Brazil and that golf was coming back, it became part of my daily mental routine. There was not one day I didn't think about the Olympics. I was finishing college at the time [at the University of Southern California].

"My whole motivation to turn pro after college was based on the Olympics. I was ready to turn pro and pursue my dream of playing in the Olympics. It's been a huge goal for me.”

Adolf Hitler's Olympic golf

Adolf Hitler sought to return golf to the Olympics in Berlin in 1936, but was denied.

“When he didn't get his way, he organised his own tournament at Baden-Baden — complete with his own, personally gifted trophy — that was an Olympic event in all but name as far as the Germans were concerned,” Derek Lawrenson writes in the Daily Mail in this review of Alan Fraser’s book, “The Hitler Trophy: Golf and the Olympic Games.

“As Fraser points out: ‘Flags were raised at the opening ceremony and at the trophy presentation; anthems were played and medals presented. The winners were even given fir trees in a mirror of the Berlin Games which saw each gold medallist receive an oak.’”

The Hitler Trophy, one of two awarded, now resides at Hesketh Golf Club in England. “So does Bentley's prize of a fir tree, planted within sight of the clubhouse and which has thrived, despite members from long ago forsaking the toilets on occasion to underline their loathing of the German dictator with their own watery ritual,” Lawrenson writes.