Golf Course Architecture: Issue 53 JULY 2018

31 Two years after the Olympics left town, the Rio Olympic Golf Course is delivering on its promise of environmental education, accessible public golf and to develop the game. One of the pioneers of the GEO Certified Development program, the Olympic course has a strong social and environmental legacy story to tell. The golf course has forged partnerships with local schools and environmental education groups, teaching the next generation about their local flora and fauna – how to protect and value it. The groups also have the opportunity to learn the game. Golf sessions tell the participants about the history of the game, playing techniques, etiquette and rules. The practice facility and innovative short course area are an invaluable resource and ideal place to first introduce people to the golfing environment. Now the official Confederação Brasileira de Golfe Training Centre, the Rio Olympic course can cater for the first-time player and the elite level – hosting monthly competitive tournaments and providing free lessons twice a week for all comers. The Rio course is walking the walk and showing what can be done with a resourceful approach and strong local collaboration. Daniel Cortinhal, course director, said: “Our golf school continues to grow, we have students from three years old to more than 80! At this point we have more than 70 new players seeking their first handicap. We are proud of our legacy and we look forward to seeing it grow.” Rio proud of its Olympic legacy Sam Thomas of Golf Environment Organization reports on the legacy of the Rio Olympic course What will the primary changes be? RJ: We aren’t sure yet. We are conducting an evidence-based restoration so letting the historic evidence guide our understanding of the course. Once all historic information has been collected, organised, and interpreted, we will have a better idea of the changes and scope. Will your work need to account for advances in technology and distance? RJ: We are always thinking about modern technology and its inevitable implications on a course’s design intent. However, reconciling technology with a classic layout isn’t our primary focus at Rolling Green. Restoring the course as faithfully and authentically as possible is our primary mandate. Flynn designs are typically second-shot courses anyway, which means distance off the tee doesn’t always result in an advantage. Correct placement of your tee shot is far more important at Rolling Green than how far you hit the ball. This strategic element has allowed their course to hold up beautifully over time and remains an interesting test of golf today, even with all the modern equipment advantages. KR: Flynn’s designs almost seemed ahead of his time. We toured a variety of his courses. Time and again I thought a club had made changes to make it relevant for today’s players, only to find out it was Flynn’s original plan. In that respect, his work is timeless and if we stay true to restoring his original design intent, Rolling Green will continue to hold up over time. Who else is involved? RJ: We will be teaming up with Don Mahaffey again who, once the original Flynn plans and aerials have been digitised and geo-referenced, will lay the original course back on the ground using GPS technology. Our goal is to get the facts straight and implement any changes as true to form as possible. We are also excited to be working with course superintendent Brian Chapin who will be instrumental in the project’s success. We have already begun working on course improvements from an agronomic perspective and Brian’s team, along with Don’s team, will be very involved with the construction components of the project. KR: What can make or break a project is the quality of the client relationship; Rolling Green’s membership definitely makes this project. It’s an honour to work together with relatable and insightful people who appreciate and embrace their design heritage. Photos: RioOGC/Luiza Reis

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