Gil Hanse’s Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro.

Gil Hanse, creator of the Olympic Golf Course.

Gil Hanse, creator of the Olympic Golf Course.

It seems to me that at the end of every great journey in life there should be a grand golf course waiting for us. The fact that the “Journey to Olympic Golf” took me to Rio de Janeiro for an afternoon visit to the Olympic Golf Course with its designer Gil Hanse and his team of Three Merry Men seems quite appropriate to me.

Here are the video interviews, pictures and some of my notes while walking the course with its creators. The Three Merry Men are Neil Cameron (from Scotland), Kyle Franz (from Albany, Oregon) and Ben Hillard (from Australia). If there is one thing you can deduce from their interview, besides of course that they are having the time of their lives,  is that the wind will be blowing during the Olympic Golf Competition. This is an open, ocean side venue as traditional as they get in golf.

CLICK here for Video Interview with Gil Hanse (Part 1 of 2).

CLICK here for Video Interview with Gil Hanse (Part 1 of 2).

CLICK here for Video Interview of the Three Merry Men- Neil Cameron, Kyle Franz, & Ben Hillard.

CLICK here for Beauty Shots of the Olympic Golf Course.

Native wire grass.

Native wire grass.

This golf course seems to be as natural as the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland. Linked to the sea with sandy sand dunes the only thing I did not see where the sheep burrowing into the landscape to create the bunkers. An old mine site for silica for glass-making has a two-tone look for a natural contrast. The land is all together, all-in-one, a long view of golf’s future history. It is a walker’s golf course (not even cart paths are planned) with only a few steps from golf hole to golf tee. Restinga habitat, natural “junes” as Aussie Hillard calls them, and native species like wire grass make this a uniquely Brazilian golf course. A true Carioca baby if there ever was one.

 

Gil's favorite green complex, the 12th.

Gil’s favorite green complex, the 12th.

Design features that pay homage to the history of golf and the host of majors will elevate this, the first designed Olympic Golf Course, a wee bit higher into the clouds striving to be near Golf’s Highest Honor. Indeed this will be known as Golf’s Highest Home, the place where Golf’s Olympians compete for the Olympic Golf Gold Medal and immortality within the Olympics and the sport of golf. There will be a little bit of the Valley of Sin, Pine Valley, the Redan and Augusta National. This is the Olympic Golf Course, simple in design to let the design speak simply for itself while challenging the golfers, male and female. A course that will favor the clever golfer, the creative golfer and not an easy lay-down par 68 to the long and powerful hitter of the golf ball.

Andy Reistetter (far left) with Gil Hanse (pink) and his Three Merry Men (from Left to Right) Kyle Franz, Neil Cameron and Ben Hillard.

Andy Reistetter (far left) with Gil Hanse (pink) and his Three Merry Men (from Left to Right) Kyle Franz, Neil Cameron and Ben Hillard.

The land has three zones of upper sandy dunes, middle low lands and a distant forested  section, Yet the routing takes you through the zones three times, saving the fourth and final for the grand finale of a solid par-4, a drivable par-4, a short short hole and a reachable par-5 home for the gold home hole. Simply brilliant. Zyosia fairways, paspalum greens, and native sandy areas galore. Always windy, normally out of the Southeast, stormy out of the Southwest but never directly off the ocean from the east.

In the Barre de Tijuca, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, in the country of Brasil, here along the sea lies the new Olympic Golf Course. While bulldozers shape the links, cranes nearby build the towers of the Olympic Village.

Andy Reistetter with Olympic Golf Course Architect Gil Hanse.

Andy Reistetter with Olympic Golf Course Architect Gil Hanse.

This is the home of the Olympians of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad. Perhaps the forgotten bride of 112 years, the game of golf, will become the heart of the 2016 Summer Olympics. A new to us Olympic sport in a new destination, the first ever in South America, might just be the story. And what a story it will be on a stage known forever as the Gil Hanse designed Olympic Golf Course.

 

 

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