Final Approval Granted for Rio Course

On Tuesday, various news services reported that approval has been finally given to allow construction of the golf course for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro to commence.

Due to issues related to ownership of the site, work had been delayed on the Gil Hanse-designed course. Rough-clearing work began in March, but it was only last weekend that approval to allow actual construction of the 18-hole layout, which is situated about three miles from the Athletes' Village and will be open to the public after the Olympics to promote and develop golf in Brazil.

"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, also the head of the International Golf Federation.

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

Now the next question seems to be what format will be used at the Rio Olympics, the first time golf will be an official sport since the 1904 St. Louis Games.

Dawson said it would continue to be a stroke-play event, although a number of leading touring pros would like to see another type of format. "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," Dawson told reporters.

"We had women support very strongly, but not all of the men. We thought that to go cater 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 also said he anticipates the game's top players will compete in 2016, despite having to juggle their busy tour schedules. "I would expect the world's best players to play," he noted. "I have spoken to many players and through their individual tours and the mood seems to be very much so."