New course planned for Rio Olympics

Golf is set to return to the Olympics for the first time in 112 years in 2016 – and a new course is planned to mark the occasion.

Golf is set to return to the Olympic for the first time in 112 years in Rio in 2016 – and a new course is being planned to mark the occasion.

A number of potential designers have already been touted, including Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam, Greg Norman and Lorena Ochoa, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Nick Faldo.

“Currently we believe that the best way forward – and I think the Rio organising committee agree with this – is to build a new course on a new site,” said Peter Dawson, chief executive of the Royal and Ancient Club and president of the International Golf Federation.

“A site has been earmarked, which is at a tremendous location very close to the beach and only three or four kilometres from the Olympic village.

“Commercial discussions are under way to acquire the site and we hope to have more news on that in the next two or three weeks.

“It is the responsibility of the Rio organising committee to provide the venue, but it is the responsibility of the federation to ensure that the venue meets the Games’ standards and requirements.

“We have strong interest from about 15 companies,” he continued.

“Fortunately it’s a part of the world where the grass grows very quickly, but we need to determine the architect and get going on it this year, otherwise it’s going to be a rush.”

As head of the body that organises the Open Championship, Dawson has also been a key player in discussions concerning how the golfing schedule will need to be reshuffled to accommodate the Games.

One move already confirmed is that the Open in 2016 will be played in the second week of July, as opposed to the third week, when it is traditionally played. No venue has yet been confirmed.

Golf’s return to the Olympics is set to feature separate competitions for men and women, with each field consisting of 60 players.

The top 15 in the respective world rankings automatically qualify for the Games. The remainder also come from the rankings, but with a maximum of two players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the leading 15.