Posted on: March 7, 2012 1:32 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 5:43 pm

Hanse wins Olympics nod, wants golden ending

By Steve Elling

DORAL, Fla. -- The sports of golf is filled with various niches, including equipment, the professional, college and amateur ranks, not to mention the design business.

In the sport's admittedly insular world, the selection of the designer for the 2016 Olympics course in Rio de Janiero has been a talking point for months.

After a bidding process and a few delays, rising architect Gil Hanse was selected from a group of eight finalists Wednesday and was introduced at Doral Golf Resort & Spa, where he has been retained by new owner Donald Trump to re-do the Blue Monster.

An early rendering of Hanse's course is above. There's a lagoon on the sand-soiled property, which he described as similar in terrain and vegetation to Australia's famous Sandbelt region, where Royal Melbourne is located.

While the course will surely morph along the way, but Hanse said he hopes to finish the course with a series of what he called "half-par holes."  

"A short par-4s, short par-3, reachable par-5," Hanse said. "Half‑par holes are where things can happen. You get really good [momentum] swings. Some people are afraid to finish golf courses that way because they don't want guys walking off going birdie, birdie, eagle.

"I think it would be awesome if they did that. I think we want to try to promote aggressive play at the end of the tournament. 

"This is the first time somebody is going to have a gold medal around their neck since 1904. There's a lot at stake and if we can have somebody really do something special down the stretch, that would be great."

Construction is set to begin this fall with a completion date in mid-2015.

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Category: Golf
Posted on: August 13, 2011 10:19 am
Edited on: August 13, 2011 10:20 am

Fazio joins Faldo bid to build Olympics venue

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- You ready for Nick Faldo, lord of the rings?

The six-time major winner on Friday took another step toward bringing an ambitious plan to fruition by convincing course architect Tom Fazio to join his attempt to build the 2016 Olympics course in Rio de Janiero, and to use the game's biggest names in the design.

Faldo told CBSSports.com that he spoke with Fazio, perhaps the most noted designer in the game these days, and gave him an outline of his sweeping plan -- to mirror the Olympic ideal by using multiple designers from several countries to build an audacious design to serve the 2016 stage. Fazio agreed to come aboard.

"This is such a great opportunity," Faldo said. "This could be the ultimate one-off of one-offs. This is the Olympics and it should really be something special, something different."
Faldo said that Fazio agreed to serve as the lead architect, while Faldo will concentrate on pulling together the names of the principle stars involved.

"I'm the heavy recruiter of designers and players," he said.

He's already been making calls. Faldo said he has spoken with the players or design firms of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Ernie Els, Nancy Lopez and Greg Norman. Fazio wants no part of the cobbling together, or determining the distribution of the workload, to the potential list of alpha males.

"He said, 'You're in charge of egos,'" Faldo laughed.

Faldo sent a letter to the International Golf Federation a couple of weeks ago, pitching the proposal of using top designers and players from a broad list of countries as a means of doing an inclusive property that would generate global interest. Almost overnight, rumors began to circulate t hat he was attempting to use 18 different designers, with each drawing up one hole.

Not the case. Never was.

"It's always frustrating when people make fast assumptions," he said.

Speaking of speed, Faldo said the consortium needs to draft a formal design proposal in a hurry. The IGF has indicated it plans to select a designer by year's end. The hope is to ideally have a course built by 2015 so that a professional tour event can be staged as a dry run in advance of the Games.

From a course-development standpoint, since various forms of land-use permitting still needs to be done on the selected parcel in Rio, that's not a lot of time.

"ASAP," Faldo said of the rush to submit a formal plan.

Faldo gets nearly giddy when he talks of the project.

"Think about it," he said. "With all of these players and designers from various parts of the world, that's what the Olympics are all about."

The idea just sort of popped into his head out of nowhere.

"It was one of those 3-o'clock-in-the-morning things," he laughed.

Joe Steranka, the chief official with the PGA of America and a member of the IGF board, said he was intrigued by the plan.

"There's not a lot of time," he said.

Category: Golf
Tags: faldo, fazio, olympics, rio
Posted on: August 6, 2011 9:51 am
Edited on: August 6, 2011 10:59 am

Faldo's Olympian effort: Big course, by big names

AKRON, Ohio -- Golf is an individual sport. So is course design, in many fundamental ways.

Something about too many cooks in the kitchen comes to mind.

Which is why the Olympics proposal that Nick Faldo has floated to the International Golf Federation is more than a bit unusual, if not completely heretical.

With golf set to make a re-appearance at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, the host venue hasn't yet been built and several big names have offered to design the course, including Jack Nicklaus, Annika Sorenstam and Greg Norman, among others.

Faldo, a six-time major winner and a designer himself, has pitched an altogether different plan in a letter to the IGF, which is in charge of the game as an Olympic sport.

At first blush, it sounds as though it could produce the biggest clash of egos in the history of the sport. It might even require a referee.

But if handled properly, it could certainly achieve Faldo's intended result -- to create a slew of publicity around the world about the Olympics push, because big-name players and designers from every corner of the world would potentially be involved in building the crucial host venue in Rio de Janiero.

Here are some excerpts from Faldo's letter to IGF brass:

"It is my hope that with this letter you might consider a genuinely international collection of player-designers, comprising major champions from all around the world working in the ultimate Olympic spirit as a design collaboration. What a tremendous, ongoing, global and historic story we could write for our sport as a truly international team of men's and women's champions create the venue for golf's return to the Olympics in 2016. Certainly some of the most-respected course designers in the world come from a global pool of the most-recognized champions.

"It is understood that the complexity of the site and the demands of the Olympic event would necessitate a unified and experienced process architecturally; as they say, egos should be checked at the door, but please imagine the worldwide interest and appeal this Olympic course as the truest collaboration of men's and women's champions -- from every continent.

"Consider for yourself, the major-champion designers from the continents of Africa, Australia, Europe, North America, South America and Asia. The announcement of this collaboration alone would generate true and positive worldwide interest and press in a truly Olympic story."

Faldo did not mention in the letter if he had spoken specifically to any players, nor did he identify any designers who were interested in the idea. In Faldo's mind, a lead architect would likely need to be appointed, but he believes that designers would leap at the chance to be involved in the project.

Just throwing around random names here, but if player-designers like Nicklaus, Palmer, Woods, Mickelson, Els, Faldo, Norman and their design ilk jumped in with both feet, it's undeniable that the interest in the project and Olympics push would increase overnight, and give several countries the feeling that their nation had participated in the outcome.

The site for the course in Rio has been identified, but no designer has been named.

Category: Golf
Tags: faldo, olympics
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com