Rio Olympic Golf Course Finally Showing Signs of Life

Gil Hanse sought to have grass growing by now on the Rio Olympic golf course he’s designing. He said at the beginning of the year, “If all goes well, we’ll have water flying sometime in March and we’ll start putting grass on the ground then.”

All did not go well. Delays have plagued the golf venue and numerous other sites in Rio. But there is hope now for the course that will host Olympic golfers for the first time since 1904.

As of this week, water is flying and landing on freshly planted grass.

“The planting of grass is the last construction activity for each hole on the course, following the completion of the earthworks, irrigation and finishing,” said Agberto Guimaraes, Rio 2016 Director of Sport and Paralympic Integration.

(Photo: Rio 2016/Alex Ferro)

(Photo: Rio2016.com/Alex Ferro)

“The start of the grassing phase for the Olympic golf course is an important event in the development of the course,” Hanse said. “We are excited to begin this phase and to focus on the detail and craftsmanship that will make this a special golf course.”

The grass is expected to need 11 months to properly grow, which means it should be good by the time the world’s best players arrive in August 2016. However, test events for all sports are typically held about a year in advance of the Olympics to ensure all operations run smoothly. That might be tough to pull off with this course.

If all goes as planned – and with Rio, that doesn’t always happen – the grass would be grown in by April or May of 2015. But then it needs time to mature, and staging an event on grass with only a few months of maturity is not ideal. So if golf officials want an Olympic test event, it might need to take place more like six months before the Games.

“The likelihood of a test event a year out continues to be improbable, and how much further within that year out we go all depends on our grassing schedule and how much the golf course matures,” said International Golf Federation Vice President Ty Votaw a few weeks ago.

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