D-day for Rio contenders


D-day for Rio contenders
Sean Dudley
By Adam Lawrence

The long, drawn-out competition to win the right to design the golf course for the 2016 Rio Olympics reaches its culmination this week.

The eight design firms that reached the shortlist are in the Brazilian city for the final presentations to the jury that will select a winner. Each bidder gets 45 minutes to explain his case; the presentations are spread over two days, Tuesday 31 January and Wednesday 1 February.

A decision is expected fairly quickly after that, as the timescale for getting the course designed and constructed is tight. The project is expected to break ground in October, and the course must be complete in time for a trial tournament during 2015. The property is sandy, but is said to lack much in the way of natural features.

The four cornered jury includes representation from the city of Rio, which owns the land at Reserva da Marapendi on which the course will be built, the Rio organising committee, the local company that will take over management of the course after the Games, and the International Golf Federation, the umbrella body that led golf’s push to be included in the Olympics.

Industry speculation suggests that the team of Jack Nicklaus’s design firm along with Annika Sorenstam is the front-runner for the job, but the make-up of the jury – with Brazilian influences dominant – may level the playing field.

UPDATE: Thursday 2 Feb, 14,00 GMT: Sources close to the bidding process have confirmed to GCA that a decision is expected tomorrow (Friday 3 February).

UPDATE: Friday 3 Feb, 16,00 GMT: Associated Press now reporting no decision on course designer expected before March.