Work finally starts on Rio 2016 course

Luxury condominiums overlook the area, on left, where the Rio 2016 Olympic golf course is planned to be built in Rio de Janeiro's Barra da Tijuca neighborhood, Brazil. Rio 2016 organizers faced an unexpected challenge to deliver the first Olympic golf tournament in more than 100 years because of a legal dispute over the land where the historic course is supposed to be built.

A sigh of relief went up this morning in Rio de Janeiro.

Golfweek has learned that field work for the Rio 2016 golf course started today. Paulo Goulart, executive director of Tanedo S.A., the Brazilian land-development company that owns the site and is paying for course construction, confirmed this morning that the long-delayed project is under way.

With environmental permissions in hand to start the golf course for the 2016 Olympic Games, designer Gil Hanse and a crew of six workers are onsite clearing non-native vegetation by hand. With good weather, a disciplined work crew and no more delays from local officials, the course could be ready within 18 months. The first step is to remove exotic vegetation, then clear center lines for the routing and from there, move on to additional clearing to allow for dirt moving, shaping, grassing, irrigation and subsequent grow-in. The plan is to have the course ready for a professional tournament in August 2015 as a trial run before the men’s and women’s Olympic competitions – golf's first Olympiad in more than 100 years – in 2016.

The 240-acre site occupies a sandy, partly marshy area of land inshore from the Atlantic Ocean. Plans call for about 45 percent of the site to be devoted to the golf course, range, clubhouse, roads and other infrastructure. The rest of the site will be preserved – and in some areas, re-established – with native vegetation. Tanedo has budgeted $30 million for the project, with $12.5 million directed toward the golf course. Greenleaf Gramados, a Brazilian company, will handle the main construction. Hanse’s in-house team of shapers, Cave Man Construction, will follow with the fine feature work of bunkers, greens, approaches and final playing surfaces.

The initial work phase is limited to hand clearing, with no deployment of earth-moving equipment until corridors have been opened.

Hanse was selected to design the golf course in an international competition that attracted 29 entrants, including many of the world’s top architects. Technical specifications for the project are being reviewed by PGA Tour Design Services and PGA Tour Construction Services.

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