Hosting golf in the Olympics has not proved a boon for Brazil and its market share in the sport. In fact, the track that hosted this year’s Olympics may soon be in deep trouble.
As the Agence France-Presse reports, the Olympic Golf Course, host for men’s and women’s golf for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August, is facing a bevy of issues that could lead to its demise.
First, there’s a lack of patronage. Employees told the AFP only “a trickle of players” could be expected at the course each day. While the Olympics course is public, unlike Rio’s other two golf layouts, residents must pay $74-82 per person for greens fees. That is certainly a hefty financial burden.
The lack of customers has of course created financial problems.
The Olympic Golf Course, according to the AFP, has an almost entirely unfurnished clubhouse, a cafe with just one waiter and one other worker to collect greens fees and no pro shop or head pro.
The stunning lack of structure doesn’t end there. In what might be the most pressing of these issues, the Olympic Golf Course may see its course fail to survive the ravages of nature.
As the AFP notes, Progolf has been commissioned to manage the course’s upkeep, yet one employee (Neil Cleverly) claimed the company had not been paid by the Brazilian Golf Confederation for the course work for two months. Without compensation, Progolf could pull out next month, and the confederation would have to quickly replace that staff.
If they couldn’t, a source close to Progolf told the AFP that the Olympic Golf Course, without maintenance, “could take four weeks, three weeks” to die.
As human visitors have dwindled, the Olympic Golf Course is already facing a mass of wildlife invasion, with birds and butterflies weaving through the rough, according to the AFP.
All of this has left Cleverly steaming.
“It’s so frustrating for us to get as far as we did. A lot of people said you’re never going to do it,” Cleverley told the AFP, referring to the disorganization that characterized the construction of the course. “I’m disappointed and it’s mixed up with a lot of frustration.”
Unfortunately, this scenario isn’t entirely unforeseen. As Golfweek‘s Brad Klein theorized right after the Olympics, with a big Brazilian recession coupled with a politically paralyzed government and a federation unclear in its plans for course management, the course’s future didn’t look bright.
While there appears to be some pressure to get the confederation to put more into helping the course, the situation doesn’t look great.
One Brazilian retiree, Luiz Villaboim, put it succinctly.
“It seems that nothing has been done for the course since the Olympics,” he told the AFP.
And if nothing more is done, the course may not survive much longer.