International Golf Federation also gives approval as new course is played for first time during test event
The new Olympic Golf Course that will be used for the Rio 2016 Games received the praise of the first golfers to play on it and the International Golf Federation (IGF) on Tuesday (8 March). Not even the scorching southern hemisphere summer sun could wear down the enthusiasm as the test event – the Aquece Rio Golf Challenge – came to an end. “This course will leave an extraordinary legacy for Brazilian sport,” said Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman.
“Some things will be worked on to ensure we have fantastic Games in August, but the level that we hoped to achieve today was reached,” said IGF executive director Antony Scanlon. “We just need to attend to the details that will make the difference between a good tournament and great tournament.”
“IT WAS A GREAT TEST EVENT, AND THE BRAZILIANS PLAYED SOME GREAT GOLF”
Antony Scanlon, IGF executive director
Former PGA Tour player Alexandre Rocha said the new Olympic course, which was unveiled in November, would be equal to the top international courses. He was particularly pleased to be the first player to take a shot on the course. “I never had the chance before to inaugurate a course before and it’s something that no one can take away from me, a really cool thing that I will always be with me”, he said.
“BEFORE WE ONLY HAD OLD COURSES IN BRAZIL. THIS IS A MODERN GOLF COURSE”
Alexandre Rocha, top-ranked male Brazilian golfer
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The challenging course was designed by American Gil Hanse (Rio 2016/Alex Ferro)
“My expectations were surpassed, it’s a fantastic course,” said fellow Brazilian player Victoria Lovelady, who also highlighted the economic benefits for Brazil. “It will attract golf tourism, people will come here to get to know a nice place and play some golf.”
“I PLAYED 18 HOLES AND, IF I COULD, I WOULD PLAY ANOTHER 18 RIGHT NOW”
Victoria Lovelady, second-best ranked female Brazilian golfer
Although it was an exhibition match, there as winner: Brazil’s top-ranked woman player Miriam Nagl, who is currently in the finalOlympic qualifiying slot. She finished ahead of Rocha and Rodrigo Lee in the stroke play event, and also showed her enthusiasm for the course: “The conditions are very good, the greens are perfect,” said Nagl, who gave birth to her daughter Laura in January. “To be able to tell my daughter that I played in the Olympic Games is an extra motivation.”
Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman, Sports Minister George Hilton, IGF president Peter Dawson and National High-Performance Sports Secretary Ricardo Leyser at the new golf course (Photo: Rio 2016/Alex Ferro)
The Games organisers were also pleased with the outcome. “We discussed everything with the International Federation and we met our objectives together: to test the competition area, results systems and time keeping,” said Rio 2016 venues director Gustavo Nascimento.
For Claudia Guedes, Rio 2016’s golf manager, “everything went very well” although work remains to be done, such as adjusting plans for the circulation of the public during the tournament. “We marked all the areas to understand the how flow of spectators will be,” she said. “It was good because we identiified a few small issues, which will be addressed.”
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After an expert report said the construction of the golf course had increased local biodiversity, guests and media at Tuesday’s test event were advised on how to minimise the affect of their presence on wildlife. “The environment is very sensitive and we were very careful with the impact we had here,” said course designer Gil Hanse.