Golf returns to the Olympic program in 2016 for the first time in 112 years. Naturally, there's a curiosity about how golf was played in 1904, the last time there was an Olympic golf tournament.
Lexi Thompson was curious, so sponsor Red Bull hooked her up with some hickory-shafted equipment and double-layered wool clothes that female golfers around the turn of the 20th century would have used to play.
As you might imagine, the 20-year-old's experience made her more appreciative of the modern comforts of titanium, graphite and performance fabrics.
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“I took a swing with a very old club and it’s made of totally different material," she said. "It was made of wood back then and now it’s graphite. I don’t know how my swing would have done with those clubs back then.”
The answer? Not well. Persimmon wood, pretty much the only material available at the turn of the century, was heavy, difficult to shape and unreliable because of density and other concerns. Hickory shafts simply couldn't handle a swing as fast as most any modern professional's, especially the long-hitting Thompson.
So what about the fashions?
“I don’t know how they played golf in those outfits, especially if it was hot out,” Thompson said. “I was wearing at least two layers on top and bottom, and a jacket on top, which was very restrictive on the back.”