Olympic course designer hopes golf wins in Rio Games

Sat Apr 18, 2015 8:19pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

FAR HILLS, New Jersey (Reuters) - Gil Hanse designed the course that will stage the return of golf to the Olympics in 2016 for the first time in 112 years and knows the stakes are high for the sport.

"I hate figure skating. I don't ever watch it. But every four years I watch figure skating because it's in the Olympics," Hanse said on Saturday at an Architectural Symposium at the U.S. Golf Association headquarters.

"So people who have never watched golf, because it's an Olympic sport will tune in.

"If in any small way we can present the face of what we believe golf should look like -- not perfect, a little bit rugged, a little bit rustic -- hopefully this will bring a boom in golf development around the world."

After long delays in construction over issues including environmental concerns, Hanse said the struggles are over and only the last touches remain on the as yet unnamed course.

"I think we're clear. We're finished," he said.

The course, which features natural vegetation, heavy bunkering, a lagoon and sandy, rough ground lining wide fairways, will host two 60-player tournaments with the women's event following the men's at the Rio Games.

A second set of bunkers were installed in the women's landing areas with fairway contours and sloping posing other threats by shedding shots off in different directions.   Continued...