I get that there is a lot to dislike about golf in the Olympics, or the Rio Games or rich people building a public course to make money from condo sales.
Yet to show just angry golf makes some people, check out the Financial Times' Jules Boycoff citing the building of the Olympic course as a brazen act of transferring public wealth into private hands. Meanwhile, poor people are being evicted, the waters are so polluted that athletes may get sick, and yet the golf course is example one of all things wrong with these games?
Golf makes people do strange things!
From Boycoff's piece:
Nowhere has the transfer of public wealth into private hands been more brazen than in the construction of the Rio 2016 golf course. The Rio Olympics mark the return of golf to the Games after a 112-year hiatus. As was touted in Rio’s original Olympic bid, the metropolis already has two elite golf courses that have staged major tournaments. One of these could have been renovated to meet Olympic standards.
The ball would need to be going thirty yards shorter and the crowds limited, not to mention mountain climbers in one case, if this were true. Anyway, go on...
But in an audacious maneuver Mayor Paes decided to locate the golf closer to the Olympic complex in Barra da Tijuca, a wealthy western suburb, even if that meant plunking the course inside the Marapendi Nature Reserve, home to numerous threatened species.
In doing so, Paes teed up a staggering deal for billionaire developer Pasquale Mauro. As long as Mauro paid the bill for the golf course — between $20 and $30 million — he’d also win a contract to build 140 luxury apartments around it.
While the mayor’s office has pointed out the benefits of no public money being used in the construction of the site, these units start at $2 million, with penthouse condominiums pushing upwards of $6 million. It doesn’t take a math whiz to calculate the value of this multi-million dollar sweetheart deal, gift-wrapped by City Hall.
While the Mayor and Mr. Mauro will not be winning any Novel peace prizes anytime soon, to suggest that the course was built at public expense seems a huge stretch. However, the anger the sport evokes will be part of the (neverending?) battle for golf to overcome this August.
**And to put the golf course matter in perspective, the New York Times' Donald McNeil Jr., Simon Romero and Sabrina Tavernise wrote in Sunday's A1 feature about the Zika virus:
The virus now threatens the economies of fragile nations and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. It has opened a new front in the debate in heavily Roman Catholic countries about a woman’s right to birth control and abortion.