American architect Gil Hanse has won the competition to design the golf course for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Hanse, who partnered with LPGA Hall of Fame golfer Amy Alcott on the bid, was among the least well-known of the eight finalists, but has strong links with the PGA Tour after his renovations of TPC Boston. R&A chief executive Peter Dawson, the International Golf Federation’s representative on the judging panel, has gone on record praising Hanse’s work at Castle Stuart, host of last year’s Scottish Open.
Hanse has committed to relocating to Rio while the golf course is under construction. An avowed ‘minimalist’ designer, his plan won approval from the Rio panel because of its aim to accentuate the natural dune formations and retain the native contours of the Reserva da Marapendi site. Rio 2016 sources also said the design includes use of native vegetation and will require a minimum of land movement.
Rio 2016 president Carlos Arthur Nuzman said: “As it marks the return of golf to the Olympic Games after over a century of absence, this course represents the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the sport. It will enable Rio to host important events in the international calendar and it will be an example of sustainability and preservation of an environmentally protected area.”
“We want to take this opportunity to say how honoured and humbled we are to have been selected to design the golf course for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro,” said Hanse. “Thank you to the city of Rio de Janeiro, the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, and the International Golf Federation for placing their trust in us to deliver a course that will become the first course to host golf in the Olympics since 1904.
“We will strive to produce a course that will maximise the benefits of the site while creating an identity that is in keeping with the natural terrain, vegetation and wildlife indigenous to what we believe will be transformed into a ‘picturesque’ landscape which will make the people of Rio proud. As the interest of any course is ultimately felt in the way it plays, we hope to construct something that will prove to be a fascinating study in the many faces it presents: options, recovery shots, and a sense of whimsy are all critical components which we think will make the 2016 Olympic course fun to play. The traditions of the game and of its most artful designs have taught us so much, and it is within these traditions that we will seek to provide a joyful design that will reinforce in future generations the unique character of the courses upon which golf is played can be a singular experience in the world of sports.”
Hanse said he hoped to break ground on the course this October. Oganisers have committed to a trial event in 2015, the year before the Games.
More information on this story as we get it.