If you care about things four years from now then you might have noticed that the long awaited result of the beauty contest to determine who will design the golf course for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil came down last week and the winner was a big surprise.
This was an eight team race with all of the biggest names in course design-Nicklaus, Norman, Player, Trent Jones, Doak, and others teamed up with the icons of women’s golf vying for the right to build a new course in Rio de Janeiro to celebrate the inclusion of golf in the world’s biggest athletic expo in 2016. The four-person jury decided on the team of Gil Hanse and Amy Alcott, easily the least heralded of the entrants, who presented a detailed design that met their criterion of building an environmentally respectful course that would not be a financial burden to the community who would inherit it once the Olympic tent was folded up and gone.
As you can read in the attached Golf World article by Geoff Shackelford called “Why the darkhorse won the day” they picked Gil Hanse because he is an established and capable architect with a strong resume of both new course design and renovation who can “construct artistic, low-impact designs with enough strategic twists to test the world’s best….and has a strong site vision and a disposition best suited for what figures to be a heavily scrutinized project.”
Maybe the most significant thing is who the committee did not choose to do this high profile project. Shackelford says, “it was time for golf to end its bizarre, expensive, and unsatisfying addiction to the ‘player-architect’”. They did not want a another lavish or gaudy display of what an unlimited budget could buy-rather they were looking for someone to create something with traditional character without a high construction or maintenance tab that could be an asset to the public community who will own and play on it for decades to come.
As one of the celebrated finalists, Robert Trent Jones Jr, correctly concluded “the jury panel’s shocking decision endorsed the vitality of architecture over celebrity”. That rarely happens in high profile projects like this.