Estrada da Gávea 800,
São Conrado 22610,
Rio de Janeiro,
- +55 21 3323 6050
15 miles SW of Rio de Janeiro city centre
As the guest of a member or when resident at certain local hotels
A M Davidson , Stanley Thompson and Robert Trent Jones
Gávea is widely regarded as Rio de Janeiro’s most prestigious golf club. It dates back to 1926 when it was established by former members of the Rio de Janeiro Golf Club and the course occupies a delightful setting to the south of Rio, adjacent to the Tijuca National Forest.
The club was formed in 1923 by a group of Scottish and English golfers with the course laid out by Arthur Morgan Davidson, a young assistant professional from Peterhead, who carried on as the club pro for another twenty years.
The formidable North American partnership of Stanley Thompson and Robert Trent Jones modified the Gávea course in the early 1930s, one of four Brazilian layouts they worked on around that time.
The outward half twists and turns over hilly terrain before crossing a main road to begin the back nine. Holes 10 to 13 are laid out on a small parcel of land adjacent to the São Conrado beach and a sizeable lake comes into play on three of these holes. The highway is crossed again to complete the round adjacent to the fairways of holes 1 to 9.
All six of the par three holes on the scorecard are located in the undulations to the north of the main road and they are typical Thompson designs, characterized by raised greens and sand traps aplenty.
Casual visiting golfers staying at accredited local hotels may play between Tuesday and Friday during the week.
I had heard Gavea GC was a great Club but had little to no info about the course. And sometimes this is good because you don't create false or extra expectations and just play the course to afterwards evaluate it, review it and make your own conclusions.
I played it twice furing the Riolize Fam Trip last week, first time with 15 TTOOs on November 23rd in a cloudy day which takes some beauty of the views and on 28th on my own in 1h45mins to give it another look and have a better total impression about it.
The course opened in the 1920s and has a lot of tradition inside the Coub House, where the boards are full of historic names winning the Brazil Open and best amateur where some of my local argentine heroes were winners in the past. It is a very nice and classic Club House where staff gives you the feel of a first class club being extremely helpful and nice. My only "negative" point is that nobody speaks english, in an international course there should be people being able to communicate with somebody who doesn't speak portuguese.
The Course is going under some renovations (greens 6-16-17) and what I celebrate about this is it is not being done without a plan and without expertise, they hired Olympic Course Architect Gil Ganse which will for sure bring great changes and armony between new greens and the existing ones in a uniform blend with the rest of the course.
The other thing that needs to be said is course maintenance: every blade of grass was just perfect, tifeagle greens rolling at 10ft and perfect, firm bunkers where a skilled golfer will be able to choose the shot he wants to make and every tree perfectly well mantained. In my second round some greens had been aireated but no worries on that, it is a necessary process to keep them healthy and true.
About the course, in the first round we didn't play 16th and used a pprovisional par 3 between holes 6.7 as the long par 3 has new green under construction. On the second round 17th green had been torn out as Hanse plans to make this green better and more playable as it isa blind secnd shot of around 140yds where you need to have some escapes being the original green to tough and sometimes unfair.
About the holes, it is fair to difference the mountain/jungle part (holes 1-9 & 15-18) from the Ocean part (10-14) which has some similarities to Seminole at some point. It is a beautiful mix between these two parts of the course and I feel gives it an extra touch when compared to other courses to have this contrast in between the two parts of the course.
Par 5 3rd hole is one great golf hole, 90 degrees dogleg right where and agressive tee shot will allow you to get home in two. Green is small and tough, with a small false front and a very tough pin position on the far left corner. Then par 4 5th is one great hole with the elevated tee shot to a fairway that ends at 290yds with a small stream and an uphill second shot where one extra club is needed. Par 4 7th was one of my favourite, another elvated (not as much as 5th) tee shot to a slight dogleg left and an uphill approach shot way more sharp than 18th at Augusta National. Par 3 8th downhill plays similar to 11th at Los Leones in Chile, where calculating the distance is a tough challenge.
The holes on the Ocean are maybe the easiest, where you have to get your score specially 10-13 as 14th is a long tough par 4 before going back to the jungle part of the course. From this clearly 14th is the best hole to play like 450yds to a green sorrounded by waste bunker and OB at the back of it.
The last 4 holes will bring you back close to the Club House where 16-17 will be my favourite, first a long uphill par 3 playing 240yds and then 17th will that blind second shot.
Loved the course, liked the experience, accepted the challenge and feel that set up in championship conditions will really demand the best players. Definitely a course to be played, which Gil Hanse will for sure slowly improve step by step to make it a modern classic in the future years.
An incredible setting for a golf course. My round was made special by playing with the then Club Pro, Roberto Gonzalez-- Brazil's most famous golfer