Last Wednesday, the firm of Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner was selected to build a new golf course in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. The course will host the women’s and men’s golf competitions in the 2016 Summer Olympic games. The competition will mark the return of golf to the Olympics; a championship was last disputed in 1904 in St. Louis, at Glen Echo Country Club.
Golf will have a minimum, two-games run, as it appears on the roster of events for the 2020 games, to be held in one of five cities (Istanbul, Tokyo, Baku, Doha or Madrid). For what it’s worth, my money is on Istanbul…cool place!
Gil Hanse revealed that he will move with his family to Rio for 1.5 years, to demonstrate his “all-in” approach to the project. Hanse is quietly gaining acclaim for his previous work, including two course in Scotland, more in the USA and a celebrated list of course restorations (Los Angeles North being the most visible of them.) Of late, he has been tapped by Mike Keiser (originally from East Aurora and of Bandon Dunes and Cabot Links fame) to build a municipal course in Bandon, Oregon, and Donald Trump, new owner of Doral Resort in Miami, to renovate the Blue Monster course at that resort.
The importance attached to the selection of an architect for this project offers a chance to shine a bit of light on the drawers and builders of the courses we play. BuffaloGolfer has had the fortune to interview Tom Doak and George Bahto, two of the leaders in the field of golf course architecture. We missed our chance at pre-famous Gil Hanse, but we’ll get to him when things settle down. BuffaloGolfer also benefits from the involvement of Scott Witter, a landscape architect and engineer who made a run at golf course architecture as a career. Locally, Scott designed Arrowhead, Ironwood and the Fawn Nine at Deerwood, so if you like those 45 holes, now you know why! You can read his thoughts (we hope more are forthcoming!) on BuffaloGolfer.Com.
As the 2012 begins early for golfers in Buffalo-Niagara, consider dedicating less time to improvement at golf and more hours toward an understanding of why you like golfing grounds so much. What is it about the topography, the direction the holes run, the cant and slope of fairways and putting surfaces, and on and on, that enchants us? If you reshape your thinking, you just might discover a reshaped game of golf.