Rio 2016: A guide to the golf course
The Olympic Course in Rio/Photo: Matthew Stockman

Rio 2016: A guide to the golf course

The first Olympic golf competition in 112 years comes to a course specially designed for the Games. Gil Hanse and his team provide a challenging test to the best men and women in the world.

John Lupo

60 men and 60 women who qualify for the Rio Olympics will contend in separate stroke-play events, four rounds each. The site of the Olympic Course is located on a 242-acre parcel along saltwater marshes and lagoons 22 miles southwest of downtown Rio De Janeiro and five miles south of the Athletes Village. Only a thin barrier stretch of dunes protects it from the Atlantic Ocean, with the wind prevailing from the southeast. The course comprises three distinct micro-ecologies: open rolling terrain in the north-central part of the property reclaimed lowlands to the southeast, and forestland to the southwest.

The course designer is Gil Hanse and the routing scheme is a reversal of the famous formula at Muirfield, with Olympic GC’s front nine cocooning counterclockwise on the inside of the land and the back nine wrapping clockwise around the perimeter. Hanse was onsite for much of the time overseeing the shaping operation by his own team at Caveman Golf, including capable restoration designer Kyle Franz, along with Neil Cameron and Ben Hillard

The theory of so-called "half-pars" comes into play on the nine Par 4s. For the men, the four shortest average 359, and the five longest average 492. The wind will be a factor as one of two holes on the front (Nos. 3 and 9) could be a drivable Par 4. The course ends with a stirring trio: the downwind, drivable 303-yard 16th; a tightly bunkered half-shot 133-yard Par 3 17th; and a 571-yard Par 5 18th into a headwind with a fairway that looks like it’s dotted with sand mines in the first and second landing areas. Here is the scorecard for the course along with a preview of most of the holes by the Golf Channel's Frank Nobilo:

An aerial view of one of the greens of the Olympic Course in Rio/Photo: Getty Images
An aerial view of one of the greens of the Olympic Course in Rio/Photo: Getty Images

Course Scorecard

    1         5   604    536
    2         4   486    435
    3         4   351    321
    4         3   191    155
    5         5   547    493
    6         3   196    177
    7         4   493    409
    8         3   172    154
    9         4   369    324
 OUT    35 3,409  3,004

 10          5   590    526
 11          4   488    420
 12          4   514    430
 13          4   479    408
 14          3   229    190
 15          4   412    374
 16          4   303    264
 17          3   133    120
 18          5   571    509
 IN         36  3,719 3,241

TOTAL  71 7,128  6,245