Green light given for Rio Olympics golf course

Golf's governing body the R&A has said that the green light has finally been given for construction of the course for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro after months of legal wrangling.

"I can announce happily that last weekend all the permits needed to start constructing the course was issued down in Rio so that work can now proceed at pace," said R&A chief executive Peter Dawson.

"If the construction schedule goes to plan, the course will be completed in good time for a test event and then for the Games tournament.

"It had not been a responsibility of the International Golf Federation to supply a venue, as was the case for stadiums in London for the most recent London Olympics.

"Instead, it is the IGF's responsibility to ensure that the golf course is technically right and adequate.

"It has been a worry what with all the delays, so let's just hope we can get it done and crack on."

Work on the Gil Hanse-designed course in the Brazilian city has been delayed by a dispute over ownership of the site.

And while clearing work started a month ago, it was only last weekend that approval was given to begin the actual construction of the 18-hole layout.

The head of Rio organising committee, Carlos Nuzman, confirmed last month that the course would be ready for a test event in 2015.

Golf is returning to the Olympics in 2016 for the first time since the 1904 Games in the US city of St Louis.

But calls by a number of leading male professionals for an Olympic tournament other than stroke-play have been ignored for the time being.

"As you know, we went for 72-hole stroke-play for men and 72-hole stroke-play for women and that was after player consultation, and at the time, we wanted to be certain we had players support," said Dawson, who is also president of the IGF.

"We had women support very strongly but not all of the men. We thought that to go canter to them would risk player support so we didn't do that.

"So, we will go with that format for 2016, have a cracking good golf competition and then review it for future years rather than try and experiment with something different in four years' time."

Dawson meanwhile said he was confident that the game's leading world-ranked players in the men's and women's games will commit to the 2016 Olympic Games, despite a packed tour schedule.

"I would expect the world's best players to play," he said.

"I have spoken to many players and through their individual tours and the mood seems to be very much so."

The course, at Reserva de Marapendi in the Barra da Tijuca district where the largest number of Games venues will be located, is about five kilometres (three miles) from the Athletes' Village.

It will be opened to the public after the competition and used to promote and develop golf in Brazil.

Peter Dawson, chief executive of golf's governing body the R&A, watches the play during the third round of The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia. The R&A has said that the green light has finally been given for construction of the course for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro after months of legal wrangling.

The Rio 2016 Olympics logo pictured on the wall of the future Olympic Park in construction in Barra de Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on November 20, 2012. Golf's governing body the R&A has said that the green light has finally been given for construction of the course for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro after months of legal wrangling.

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