Built for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games this is probably the only golf course in the world built exclusively for a tournament and that is embedded in the DNA of the course. That should be understood by anyone that wishes to test himself against a course designed to sort men from boys.
It’s unclear if the course will continue existing after the 20 years contract made by the city and the developer so I would recommend players interested in visiting the course to put it as a priority on their bucket list.
The architect Gil Hanse opted to create a course with no average length par fours, there are four short par fours averaging 335 yards and five long par fours averaging 462 yards a difference of 127 yards.
The longest par four is number 12 a 496-yard beast that will probably require three shots to reach the putting surface. I played it against a normal wind and hit a good driver and a perfect three wood that left me 30 yards short of the green. That was the first time ever that I couldn’t reach a par four with two good shots and it was a strange feeling.
Fairways were seeded with a secret weapon, a brand new grass called Zeon Zoysis developed by David Douguet at Bladerunner Farms in Poteet, Texas. The grass and the sandy soil are the base for perfect turf conditions, when I say perfect it is not a figure of speech, as long as you find the fairway the ball sits up like it’s on a tee. The bad news is that the errant shots will find huge natural areas with dense vegetation and a lot of sand, from there an approach back to the fairway is always a good idea.
The course has many blind shots and it will be useful to take a caddie. The first tee is a good example, without a map or explanations you will have some difficulties to understand where the hole is, and the same happens on the second shot, so always take your time and study the options before pulling the trigger.
Number 12 was my favorite hole, not that I like to suffer but it was very interesting to play a hole that should be a 4.5 shotter. To counterbalance that the architect gave us number 16 a short par 4 that could be a 3.5 shot hole giving the combo a yin yang identity.
The course sits near the ocean so wind is a huge factor and it directly affects the majority of the holes. For this reason it is very hard to describe how to play this course, my best advice is to warm up properly, be open-minded and enjoy the many variables that the architect throws at you. Don’t try to categorize this course because it is something built to be unique so Mission Accomplished Mr. Hanse.
Date: March 20, 2018