Host City: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date Started: August 11, 2016
Date Finished: August 20, 2016
Participants: 120 (60 men and 60 women) from 41 countries
Youngest Participant: Aditi Ashok (18 years, 142 days)
Oldest Participant: Catriona Matthew (46 years, 358 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 6 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): 6 countries with 1 medal
Golf returned to the Olympic Program for the first time in 112 years, last having appeared for men at the 1904 St. Louis Olympics, while Olympic golf for women had been held only in Paris in 1900. The effort to return golf to the Olympics had been ongoing since the late 1950s, with various overtures made through different groups. The most serious effort occurred in the early 2000s when the World Golf Council (whose name later changed to the International Golf Federation) applied to be on the program for the 2008 London Olympics but this failed when it was not supported by the US PGA Tour. Golf made another attempt in 2009; this time it not only had the support of the PGA Tour, but the bid was led by that organization.
The 2016 golf program was identical for men and women, with 72-hole stroke play tournaments, although this was criticized as many felt it should have been a team event. Countries were allowed up to 4 players per NOC, as long as all 4 were in the top 15 in the World Rankings. Only the United States with 4 men, and Korea, with 4 women, had that many entries. Other nations could have up to 2 competitors per NOC, with wildcard entries allowed to allow for continental participation.
Problems started well before the Olympics when a new golf course had to be built for the tournament and it was met by environmental complaints. There was some concern that the course would not be finished in time, and a test event early in 2016 had only local participation. The course eventually was well-accepted as a top test in good condition by the majority of the competitors.
The 2016 Olympics golf program was not embraced by the best men players in the world, although virtually all the top women competed. In the months before Rio, Australian Adam Scott was openly critical of even holding an Olympic golf event. Eventually, several of the top men in the world rankings withdrew, many of them citing concern over the Zika virus, although that turned out to be a non-factor. Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, and Dustin Johnson were the highest ranked players who decided not to participate in Olympic golf. Eventually, it mattered little, as once the tournament started the level of play was top-notch, and the tournament was well attended. The Brazilian galleries embraced Olympic golf, although the sport had not been very popular in that country before.