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You won't believe what happened when George Lyon went to defend his golf gold medal in 1908

August 19, 2016

Over the past few weeks, we've heard so much about this being the first time golf has been in the Olympics in 112 years. But it wouldn't have been as long if not for a strange turn of events. And a last-minute decision that even came too late to keep the defending champ from showing up.

Golf was supposed to be a part of the Summer Games in 1908, something that certainly makes sense when considering the location: Great Britain. In fact, according to the International Golf Federation's website, a 108-hole(!) competition was planned to be played at a rota of three English courses: Royal St. George's GC, Prince's GC and Cinqueports GC.

But alas, a dispute between the R&A and the Olympic organizing committee caused all of Great Britain's entrants to drop out. Due to a lack of entries, the event was cancelled. However, gold medalist George Lyon of Canada was already en-route to defend his title. When he arrived, he was informed the event had been cancelled. Rough.

Lyon, a former cricket star who was Canada's amateur golf champion eight times, was offered a symbolic gold medal for his efforts (Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean -- fun!), but he turned it down. Good for him.

There was talk of golf being included in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm as well, but it was scrapped in part because the sport wasn't popular in Sweden. And a lack of entries again doomed a golf tournament from happening in the 1920 Olympics in Belgium.

Add it all up and Justin Rose became the first golfer to earn a gold medal in 112 years. Well, unless you count the one George Lyon was offered for simply showing up in Rose's country 108 years before.