By Tom Degun

Hanse golf_design_Rio_2016March 7 - Rio 2016 have today selected American-based company Hanse Golf Course Design to create the golf course for the 2016 Olympic Games when the sport appears on the programme for the first time since St Louis 1904 over 100 years ago.

The major announcement came during a three-day visit to the Brazilian city by International Olympic Committee (IOC) inspectors, who, led by Morocco's Nawal El Moutawakel, the chair of the Rio 2016 Coordination Commission, are carrying out a review of preparations.

Hanse Golf Course Design was selected from eight finalists including Gary Player Design, Greg Norman Golf Course Design, Hawtree Ltd, Nicklaus Design, Renaissance Golf, Robert Trent Jones II and Thomson-Perret Golf Course Architects.

Golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman were considered favourites to be awarded the right design the new course at Reserva de Marapendi in Barra da Tijuca but a selection panel headed by Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman and International Golf Federation (IGF) President Peter Dawson concluded that Hanse Golf Course Design was the candidate that most aptly met the selection criteria that was issued for the venue.

The proposal was cited for its design characteristics, including accentuation of the natural dune formations and retention of the natural contours of the land, while the prioritising a golf academy as an essential tool for the development of golf in Brazil.

"As it marks the return of golf to the Olympic Games after over a century of absence, this course represents the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the sport," said Nuzman.

"It will enable Rio to host important events in the international calendar and it will be an example of sustainability and preservation of an environmentally protected area.

"This course will be an excellent facility for the practice and development of golf and will inspire millions of youth across Brazil and the globe.

"We look forward to welcoming the athletes and spectators to the course in 2016."

Gilbert S._Hanse_after_being_awarded_Rio_2016_golf_course_design
Hanse Golf Course Design was founded in 1993 by Gilbert S. Hanse (pictured above left with Ty Votaw, the chief executive of the IGF, after the announcement), the 48-year-old award-winning architect who is also President of the company based in Malvern in Pennsylvania.

The company boasts a portfolio of internationally renowned golf courses, including the famous Castle Stuart golf course in Scotland, while Hanse has committed to relocating to Rio while the golf course is under construction.

For the Rio 2016 project, Hanse Golf Course Design has teamed up with women's great Amy Alcott.

The 56-year-old from California amassed 29 professional victories on the LPGA Tour including five major championship victories and is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

To take part in the selection process, companies were required to provide evidence of golf course design experience, compliant with Rio 2016 international rules and to furnish proof of the qualifications necessary to develop the project.

"The IGF would like to thank all of the architects who worked so hard on their bids and whose presentations demonstrated great vision," said Dawson.

"The selection process adopted by Rio 2016 was extremely thorough and reflected the importance of the project.

"I am delighted Hanse Golf Course Design has been appointed to design the Olympic golf course which promises to provide an outstanding venue for the Games and a tremendous legacy for our sport in Brazil."

Rio 2016_golf_design_concept
Initially, the winning designer for the course was expected to be announced last December, but the deadline for proposals was extended because none of the bidders initially had the proper legal and financial documentation.

The announcement was then set for last month, but the local committee delayed it so the winner could be revealed during the IOC visit.

The golf course in Barra da Tijuca will be based in the district that will contain the largest number of 2016 Olympic Games venues.

It will be located approximately five kilometres from the Athletes' Village and seven kilometres from the Main Press Centre (MPC) and the International Broadcast Centre (IBC), south of Avenida das Americas and north of Lagoa de Marapendi.

After the 2016 Olympic Games, the course will be used as a public facility with the chief purpose of promoting golf in Brazil and the globe.

Contact the writer of this story  at [email protected]

Related stories
March 2012: Rio 2016 to unveil golf course designer during IOC review
February 2012: Rio 2016 delays picking golf course designer until March
January 2012: Golf greats pitch designs for Rio 2016
October 2011: Rio 2016 launch international contest to design Olympic Games golf course
September 2011: Legal dispute throws Rio 2016 Olympic golf course into uncertainty