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Golf Australia Express : Issue 47
on Tour each week, capturing the interest and participation of some lesser-known golf nations is vital in the expansionist bid’s success. If countries feel they don’t stand a medal chance they’re less likely to invest heavily in golf and more likely to pour that money into, say, yet another stocky weightlifter. Nevertheless, national golf federations now have more power lobbying their governments for added investment in the game thanks to the Olympic inclusion of golf. Another hurdle is the geographical location of the next Olympics. Rio has but two decent golf courses—the Gávea Golf and Country Club and the Itanhanga Golf Club. Both are private clubs open only to members—hardly a recipe for growing the game in South America. Yet this drawback can also be an opportunity—it all depends on whether you’re the glass half full or empty type. The Rio Olympics allows golf a chance to promote its values in a region where football, or soccer, rules. And we’ve already seen some of that develop. The city has been forced to build a new world-class golf course that will become its first public-access golf facility. What better way to get the masses into the sport than teeing it up at a quality track? That’s not to say the development has been a walk in the park... THE OLYMPIC COURSE In March, highly regarded golf course architect Gil Hanse won the Rio 2016 Committee contract ahead of heavyweights Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Tom Doak and Peter Thomson to design the new Olympic course for the Rio Games. Problem is, the committee doesn’t own the 220-acre site in the Barra district earmarked for the new course development. Neither does the Brazilian government. Works on the course were planned to start in October but have been stalled by a land dispute between two parties both alleging to be the rightful owner of the land. The matter is now in the hands of Brazil’s Higher Court of Justice, and without getting into the complexities of the dispute, it could take months or even years to be resolved in court. It puts serious doubts on whether the Rio has been forced to build a new world-class golf course that will become its first public-access golf facility. What better way to get the masses into the sport than on a quality track? COVER STORY THE Gil Hanse (above) won the design contract for the Rio 2016 Olympic golf course, but a planning dispute at the proposed site threatens to derail the project.
Issue 48—PGA Championship