Hunter Olympic golf gold medal 2253PV13-08-16.jpg
The 1904 St Louis Olympic gold medal awarded to golfer Robert E Hunter which is estimated at £20,000-30,000 in Christie's September 14 sale in South Kensington.

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Golf was removed from the Olympic schedule after that St Louis staging and only reintroduced this year for Rio. Two golds are up for grabs in 2016: one for men, one for women. The men’s event runs from August 11-14 and the women's from August 17-20.

Hunter (1886-1971) was presented with the 14ct medal as part of a winning team in 1904. It was the first Games to award gold, silver and bronze medals, and one of only two in which the winners were presented with solid gold medals. Only three team gold medals for golf are known.

Hunter’s medal is now being offered at auction on September 14 by Christie’s South Kensington as part of their quirky annual Out of the Ordinary event. It is a stand-out item from the 90-lot sale, estimated at £20,000-30,000.

Also on sale is a collection of golfing medals won by Hunter, offered alongside silver and plated trophy cups and a signed published diary by him, The Royal and Ancient Game of Golf, 1907 (estimate: £6000-10,000).

The 1904 golf contest was dominated by leading amateur players from the American Midwest and a handful from beyond. Among them was Hunter, a 17-year-old prodigy from Chicago.

Golf had appeared in just one previous Olympic Games, four years earlier in Paris, when a 36-hole competition had been staged for men and a nine-hole contest for women. For St Louis, however, the women’s championship had been dropped, replaced by a men’s team championship held over 36 holes.

The Brits did well in the 1900 Olympic golf tournament, with Walter Rutherford taking home a silver medal and David Robertson a bronze, albeit in a field of just 22 competitors.

As the BBC notes: “The 116-year reign of American Margaret Abbott as women's Olympic golf champion will finally end in Rio. Women’s golf has only been held in Paris in 1900 prior to this summer. Her mum, Mary, tied for seventh in the tournament.”

Big names miss Rio 2016

Despite golf being back on the Olympics agenda, many top players are refusing to go, including Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson.

McIlroy was asked which events at Rio he would watch. He said: “Probably events like track and field, swimming, diving, the stuff that matters.” He added: “I don’t feel like I’ve let the game down at all. I didn’t get into golf to try to grow the game. I got into golf to win championships and win majors.

“All of a sudden you get to this point and there is a responsibility on you to grow the game and I get that. But at the same time that’s not the reason I got into golf. I got into golf to win. I didn’t get into golf to get other people into the game.”

As with football, many other tournaments can claim to be the pinnacle of the sport rather than the games, and the lack of a long Olympic history also has an effect - although the Zika virus seems to have become a big reason not to go.