(Editor’s Note. Golf is making its first appearance in the Olympic Games in 100 years in 2016 in Rio De Janiero, Brazil. This is controversial in many quarters. It now seems that the planners of the Games plan to build a new course for the event).
Apparently to the surprise of many, Hanse Golf Course Design has been selected to design the golf course for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games, when golf returns to the program after an absence of more than 100 years. Karen Crouse writes in The New York Times about the “first golfing upset of the 2016 Summer Olympics” , quoting the company’s founder Gilbert S. Hanse: “It’s just an amazing cast. It was all I could do to hold back tears.”
Golf star Phil Mickelson, recently elected to World Golf Hall of Fame, was enthusiastic: “I’m a big fan of Gil Hanse,” he said, “For him to get the Olympic job, I give the Olympic Committee a real credit, a lot of credit, because it would have been easier to go with a big name. And instead they went with the best.”
The Rio 2016 Organizing Committee selected the US based company from eight finalists as the candidate that “most aptly met the selection criteria that were issued by Rio 2016”. According to a Rio 2016 press release, “the proposal was cited for its design characteristics, including accentuation of the natural dune formations and retention of the natural contours of the land.
The design effectively addresses the planning of temporary overlay structures and internal flow systems for the venue and contains a strong legacy component with the prioritizing of a golf academy as an essential tool for the development of golf in Brazil. The design also considers the location of permanent buildings and the experience of players and spectators.”
The announcement of the four-member jury’s decision, originally planned for 4 February following two-days of architect presentations in Rio de Janeiro, was made with the blessing from a six-person IOC delegation. Hanse’s bid bested the presentations of finalists Jack Nicklaus-
Annika Sorenstam, Greg Norman-Lorena Ochoa, Gary Player, Martin Hawtree, Tom Doak, Robert Trent Jones II, and Peter Thomson-Ross Perret. Candidates’ proposals were examined by a selection panel formed by Peter Dawson, President of the International Golf Federation; Carlos Arthur Nuzman, President of Rio 2016; Augusto Ivan, Adviser to the President of the Municipal Olympic Company; and Arminio Fraga, member of the Rio 2016 Golf Advisory Committee.
According to Golf Digest, the leading US golf magazine, “number of factors aided Hanse’s bid even as he was arguably the least well-known finalist. The International Golf Federation’s lone jury panel voter, R&A Chief Officer Peter Dawson, publicly praised the 48-year-old designer’s work at Scottish Open host Castle Stuart. Hanse was also strongly supported by the PGA Tour, whose Design Services division guided the Rio Organizing Committee. Among the first architects to visit the Rio site a year ago before the design contest was opened to all interested bidders last fall, Hanse reportedly impressed Rio’s Golf Advisory Board member and Arminio Fraga with a design approach respecting the environmentally sensitive land while fitting Rio’s goals of creating a sustainable design meld with its native surrounds.”
Gilbert S. Hanse, 48, the founder and President of the successful company, boasts a portfolio of internationally renowned golf courses recognized by elite and amateur golfers alike.
Hanse Golf Course Design teamed up with LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame member, Amy Alcott, for the project. Alcott amassed 29 professional victories on the LPGA Tour including five major championship victories. They will work closely with environmental and sustainability engineering firms in the final design process and advocate the use of native vegetation and a minimum of land movement. Hanse has committed to relocating to Rio while the golf course is under construction.
This piece appeared in The Sport Intern, a newsletter that is published 5 days each week by Karl Heinz-Huba, A German journalist based in Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He bills his publication as the inside international sports newsletter.