The announcement of the four-person jury panel’s decision, originally slated for February 4th following two-days of architect presentations in Rio de Janeiro, was made Wednesday with the blessing from a six-person International Olympic Committee contingent upon making a site inspection. Hanse’s bid bested the presentations of finalists Jack Nicklaus-Annika Sorenstam, Greg Norman-Lorena Ochoa, Gary Player, Martin Hawtree, Tom Doak, Robert Trent Jones II and Peter Thomson-Ross Perret.
(Full disclosure: I have worked with Hanse on several projects, but remained out of the Olympic design loop.)
A number of factors aided Hanse’s bid even as he was arguably the least well-known finalist. The International Golf Federation’s lone jury panel voter, R&A Chief Officer Peter Dawson, publicly praised the 48-year-old designer's work at Scottish Open host Castle Stuart. Hanse was also strongly supported by the PGA Tour, whose Design Services division guided the Rio Organizing Committee. Among the first architects to visit the Rio site a year ago before the design contest was opened to all interested bidders last fall, Hanse reportedly impressed Brazilian Golf Advisory Board member and jury panelist Arminio Fraga with a design approach respecting the environmentally sensitive land while fitting Rio’s goals of creating a sustainable design meld with its native surrounds.
Politically—after all, this was an IOC-influenced project--Hanse allied himself with LPGA Hall of Famer Amy Alcott, whose enthusiasm for the public golf component of the project reportedly impressed the panel, as did support from environmental consulting firm, The Larkin Group. Insiders say Hanse’s presentation in Rio was reportedly boosted by a video endorsement from former USGA Executive Director David Fay, one of golf’s biggest Olympic advocates during his stint with the International Golf Federation.
The Malvern, Pennsylvania-based course designer is best known for Castle Stuart and as renovator of Deutsche Bank Championship host TPC Boston. Hanse learned of the commission while in Miami to debut plans for a renovated TPC Blue Monster. Golf Channel was on hand to record the phone call from Brazil and also captured each of the eight finalist presentations. (A documentary is expected to detail the Rio course’s completion as part of NBC/Golf Channel’s Olympic coverage.)
A transcript of Hanse's press conference at Doral with PGA Tour VP and International Golf Federation representative Ty Votaw will be posted when it appears online.
Hanse’s career commenced thanks to receiving Cornell’s William Frederick Dreer Award, which allowed him to study the best links of Great Britain. He founded his firm in 1993 after an apprenticeship with Hawtree and Son (an Olympic competitor) and after a stint as Design Partner with Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design (another Olympic design runner-up).
Hanse has since built nine 18-hole designs, most notably the Boston Golf Club (Hingham, Mass.), a second course for the Crail Golfing Society (Crail, Fife, Scotland), Rustic Canyon (Moorpark, California) and two courses near his home, the French Creek Golf Club (Elverson, PA) and Applebrooke Golf Club (Malvern, PA). Hanse’s roster of restoration work includes such noted designs as The Creek Club (C.B. Macdonald/Seth Raynor), The Country Club (William Flynn), Fishers Island (Raynor), Los Angeles Country Club (George Thomas, Billy Bell), Plainfield (Donald Ross), Quaker Ridge (A.W. Tillinghast), Winged Foot Golf Club (Tillinghast) and Ridgewood Country Club (Tillinghast).
Because of issues with the site and the land owner, it is unclear when construction will commence but officials have stated they expect to play a preview event on the course in 2015.
**The official release...
Hanse Golf Course Design selected by Rio 2016™ to design golf venue for the Olympic Games
The Rio 2016™ Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games has selected US based Hanse Golf Course Design to design the golf course in Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games in 2016, when golf returns to the programme after an absence of 112 years.
Hanse Golf Course Design was selected from eight finalists as the candidate that most aptly met the selection criteria that were issued by Rio 2016™. The proposal was cited for its design characteristics, including accentuation of the natural dune formations and retention of the natural contours of the land.
The design effectively addresses the planning of temporary overlay structures and internal flow systems for the venue and contains a strong legacy component with the prioritising of a golf academy as an essential tool for the development of golf in Brazil. The design also considers the location of permanent buildings and the experience of players and spectators.
Gilbert S. Hanse, 48, the founder and President of the successful company, boasts a portfolio of internationally renowned golf courses recognised by elite and amateur golfers alike. Hanse Golf Course Design has teamed up with LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame member, Amy Alcott, for the project. Alcott amassed 29 professional victories on the LPGA Tour including five major championship victories. They will work closely with environmental and sustainability engineering firms in the final design process and advocate the use of native vegetation and a minimum of land movement. Hanse has committed to relocating to Rio while the golf course is under construction.
“As it marks the return of golf to the Olympic Games after over a century of absence, this course represents the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the sport. It will enable Rio to host important events in the international calendar and it will be an example of sustainability and preservation of an environmentally protected area,” said the President of Rio 2016™, Carlos Arthur Nuzman. “This course will be an excellent facility for the practice and development of golf and will inspire millions of youth across Brazil and the globe. We look forward to welcoming the athletes and spectators to the course in 2016.”
Peter Dawson, President of the International Golf Federation, said, “The IGF would like to thank all of the architects who worked so hard on their bids and whose presentations demonstrated great vision. The selection process adopted by Rio 2016™ was extremely thorough and reflected the importance of the project. I am delighted Hanse Golf Course Design has been appointed to design the Olympic golf course which promises to provide an outstanding venue for the Games and a tremendous legacy for our sport in Brazil.”
Hanse Golf Course Design tackled the challenge of designing a course for use by both elite and amateur athletes; one of the main legacy objectives. It addressed the environmental sustainability directives for the Games and efficiently conformed to the building restrictions on the land. Hanse Golf Course Design also effectively integrated native vegetation to the design, reducing the areas where frequent maintenance will be required.
Notes to editors:
Hanse Golf Course Design was formed in 1993 by Gil Hanse and joined in 1995 by his partner and Vice-President, Jim Wagner. With headquarters in Malvern, PA, the firm has dedicated its professional practice to the hands-on creation and restoration of some of the finest golf facilities in the world by creating golf courses which are fun and interesting to both professional and recreational golfers.
In 2009, Hanse was elected “Architect of the Year” by Golf Magazine, and in the same year his Castle Stuart golf course in Scotland was considered to be “the Best New International Course.”
To take part in the selection process, companies were required to provide evidence of golf course design experience, compliant with Rio 2016™ international rules and to furnish proof of the qualifications necessary to develop the project.
The eight contest finalists included: Gary Player Design, Greg Norman Golf Course Design, Hanse Golf Course Design, Hawtree Ltd., Nicklaus Design, Renaissance Golf Design, Robert Trent Jones II and Thomson Perrett.
Candidates’ proposals were examined by a selection panel formed by Peter Dawson, President of the International Golf Federation; Carlos Arthur Nuzman, President of Rio 2016™; Augusto Ivan, Adviser to the President of the Municipal Olympic Company; and Arminio Fraga, member of the Rio 2016™ Golf Advisory Committee.
The golf course will be built at Reserva de Marapendi in Barra da Tijuca, the district that will contain the largest number of Rio 2016™ Olympic Games venues. It will be a unique Olympic Games venue, located approximately five kilometres from the Athletes’ Village and seven kilometres from the Main Press Centre (MPC) and the International Broadcast Centre (IBC), South of Avenida das Americas and North of Lagoa de Marapendi. After the 2016 Olympic Games, the course will be used as a public facility with the chief purpose of promoting golf in Brazil and the globe, representing one of the most important Olympic Games legacies for sport development in the country.
About the Rio 2016™ Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games
The Rio 2016™ Organising Committee is a private not for profit sports organisation established by Brazilian Olympic Confederations, the Brazilian Olympic Committee and the Brazilian Paralympic Committee. Its mission is to promote, organise and deliver the Rio 2016™ Olympic and Paralympic Games, in accordance with the guidelines laid out by the Host City Contract, the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the World Anti-doping Agency, and under the Brazilian Law, the Olympic Charter and the IPC Handbook.