Q&A With Antony Scanlon About Olympic Course

Antony Scanlon
Executive Director

By IGF, 13 April 2012 – On March 7, 2012, the organizers of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro selected the team of Gil Hanse and Amy Alcott to design the course that will host the first Olympics golf competition since 1904.

In addition to his original designs, Hanse is known for his work on existing courses, most notably his highly acclaimed restoration of the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club, the site of the 2017 Walker Cup Match. Alcott, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, has won two USGA championships, the 1973 U.S. Girls’ Junior and the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open.

Antony Scanlon, the executive director of the International Golf Federation (IGF), discussed the decision process, the site for the course and the timetable leading up to the 2016 Games. Scanlon worked on many Olympic Games for both the International Olympic Committee and various organizing committees before joining the IGF, which is the international federation for golf for the IOC.

Q: What made Hanse Golf Course Design stand out in the selection process?

Scanlon: All eight candidates gave exceptional presentations, and the Jury Panel was very impressed with each one. But through final evaluations, the overriding belief was that Hanse Golf Course Design did the best job overall of addressing the broad range of the criteria that were set forth from the outset in the request for proposals. We were particularly impressed with his ideas on design characteristics and hands-on creativity, and consideration for the facility’s legacy of promoting and developing golf in Brazil and globally.

There also are numerous issues to consider beyond the competitive design of the course for male and female Olympians, from access and flow of spectators during competition, to long-term maintenance and operation of the course, to the importance of environmental sustainability and the integration of native vegetation. In the end, we were very comfortable with Gil Hanse’s proposal and believe it will provide an outstanding Olympic venue as well as a golf course that will serve as a lasting legacy through the development and nurturing of golfers long after the Games.

How was the final selection made?

After issuing the request for proposals, all bids were considered and the eight finalists were selected. The finalists then presented to the Jury Panel, which was comprised of Peter Dawson, President of the International Golf Federation; Carlos Arthur Nuzman, President of Rio 2016™; Augusto Ivan, the assessor of the Municipal Olympic Company; and Arminio Fraga, member of the Rio 2016™ Golf Advisory Committee.

After a final, thorough evaluation, the Jury Panel unanimously recommended Hanse Golf Design to Rio 2016™, and Rio 2016™ accepted the recommendation.

When does construction begin?

Groundbreaking is scheduled to begin October 2012 and the course is expected to be ready for grow-in early in 2014.

Will it be finished in time for test events in 2015?

There is sufficient time to build the championship course we had envisioned and have it ready for test events in the first half of 2015. The fact that Gil Hanse plans to move to Brazil to have hands-on involvement with the construction of the course is going to be a tremendous benefit to moving the project along.

Are there issues with the land where the course will be built?

The site was degraded by a sand-mining operation, but it is an outstanding piece of land and development of the golf course will restore its natural beauty. Gil Hanse plans to retain the natural contouring and accentuate the natural sand dune formations. The golf course also will integrate the natural vegetation into the design.

Are there any environmental concerns with building a golf course on this site?

There was a strong emphasis within the request for proposals for the golf course designer to be environmentally sustainable and the winning design reflects this.

When completed there will be a well-planned, designed, constructed and managed golf facility with the following environmental legacies:

  • Restoration of degraded land
  • Certification of venue as environmentally sustainable
  • Creation of green space with local access
  • Creation of watershed and provision of attenuation, natural filtering and treatment of water
  • Management of run-off, erosion and conservation of soil structure and biodiversity
  • Improved ecosystem with increased native plants that will encourage wildlife sanctuary

Why was it necessary to build a new course?

Following a detailed analysis of the suitability for Olympic-level competition of the existing 18-hole golf courses within Rio de Janeiro, the IGF, Rio 2016™ and the City of Rio determined that a new golf course should be constructed. This golf course will be the only public 18-hole golf course not only in Rio de Janeiro, but also in Brazil and will be an excellent Olympic legacy.

What is the total cost of the construction of the course?

Following the completion of the Executive Project, a budget will be calculated for the construction of the course, which will be privately funded.

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