As time goes by, this design
rendering becomes less realistic
"They're standing still" in Rio
By Torleif Sorenson on 3/12/13
Golf at the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil appears to be a classic case of "cart before the horse" — putting bureaucracy before building. The organizing committee has clearly put more time, energy, and effort into their new, luxurious, and environmentally correct headquarters building than they have expended on one of their highest-profile sports venues.

Construction on the 2016 Olympic golf course, designed by the American "traditionalist" architect Gil Hanse, was supposed to have begun in October of last year. But a slew of ownership issues and a lawsuit have prevented even one shovel-full of dirt from being turned. International Golf Federation Executive Director Antony Scanlon is openly worried about numerous and repeated delays.

This week, Tom Degun of reports that 2016 Brazilian Olympic Committee president Carlos Arthur Nuzman, lawyer that he is, insists that everything is "in control":
"With regard to the golf course, we have now finalised all the adjustments. We have signed the contract with the owner of the land so we are in control of the project and have already started. We have also started sorted the environmental guarantees.

"It is not something that is completely to do with the Organising Committee as it is also a matter for the Government but it is definitely all sorted and we will certainly have the golf course ready on time."
However, Nuzman apparently failed to elaborate on how the ownership struggle making its way through the Brazilian court system has supposedly been resolved.

Gil Hanse, the actual course architect who knows what is going on, indicated otherwise last Thursday on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive" program:
"It just seems like there's this bureaucracy that won't seem to let its tentacles go. I'm disappointed in that. I'm disappointed in myself because I thought, gosh, it's the Olympics, you can't get any bigger than that. They've got to be able to just move this through.

"Unfortunately I was dead wrong with that.

"They're standing still. It's been very frustrating."
Hanse also said that he still hopes to begin construction on April 1, which would put the project only (!) six months behind schedule. While some observers insist that this should not endanger the project, it is absolutely worth remembering that the project is being overseen by politicians and lawyers, rather than project managers and architects like Hanse.

The more this project falls behind, the less margin for error and construction problem-solving Hanse and his team will have. Also, the course becomes less likely to be able to host shake-down test events and tournaments, which would be essential to logistics planning and spectator infrastructure. Also necessary is the ability to carefully plan and troubleshoot temporary food-service, transporation, first aid, and waste disposal needs. As authors Stephen Goodwin, Scott Gummer, and John Strawn have already documented, construction of a major new course (and plenty of lower-profile courses) rarely goes without delays, problems, and bureaucratic wrangling.

Political corruption and a bribery scandal marred the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, while the 1976 Olympic Winter Games originally scheduled for Denver, Colorado had to be moved to Innsbruck, Austria when Colorado voters decided not to fund the necessary infrastructure. However, it is worth noting that the 2016 Olympic golf course and the aforementioned scandals pale in comparison to the Islamic terrorist massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

This experienced technical writer and editor has met PMI-certified project managers who have shut down IT projects that have gone just 10% behind schedule or budget. Unfortunately, Hanse and his construction team are being forced further behind than that by bureaucrats, lawyers, and ultimately, Brazil's Higher Court of Justice. I want very much to be optimistic that Hanse's design and the 2016 Olympic golf tournament will ultimately spur an explosion of golfers in Brazil and across South America. But as time goes by, the prospects become more dim.

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Image via Hanse Golf Course Design

[ comments ]
mmontisano says:
all this and Gil Hanse moved himself and his family down there, where kidnapping is "business as usual." less than 2 years ago thugs tried to knick Jenson Button, the F1 driver, but luckily his bodyguard slash expert tactical driver got him out of there unharmed. i've spoken to a pilot that refuses to fly to South America after he witnessed flight attendants be kidnapped from the van in front of him. scary stuff.
Torleif Sorenson says:
That *is* scary stuff. Any thoughts I had about going down there (when the money is available) are now pretty well quashed. BadCaddy, thanks for the local knowledge - 1000 points for you.
Jattruia says:
Let's not sum up ALL of South America like this. Chile and Argentina are very safe and are some of the best places you could visit. I've heard Brazil has some issues, but it's still on my list, especially for the Olympics.
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