Top 20 Golf Courses of Brazil 2016

Top 20 Golf Courses of Brazil 2016

We add another five courses to our Brazilian standings in this latest revision

Brazil has hosted its fair share of big sporting events, including the FIFA World Cup in both 1950 and 2014, but 2016 promises to be stratospherically bigger when the games of the XXXI Olympiad get underway this August in Rio de Janeiro. Significantly, for lovers of the Royal and Ancient Game, golf returns to the Olympics after a hiatus of more than a century when, in 1904, Canada’s George Lyon won the Gold medal at Glen Echo Country Club in St Louis, Missouri.

Rio 2016 Olympic Golf Course

Naturally, there’s been more than a flurry of golfing activity in Rio recently, as it was deemed necessary to fashion a brand new course on which to host the Games. Gil Hanse was one of eight prominent architects who bid for the right to design the Rio 2016 Olympic Golf Course and he won the contest due to his commitment to relocate to Rio de Janeiro to oversee the construction of the layout. Alexandre, our Brazilian correspondent, has seen it and after a lengthy grow-in period he believes it will represent a fair, solid and exciting test for the professionals that tussle for the Gold medals. After the Games, the Olympic course will be open for public play. In fact it will become a municipal facility. You’ll be able to play our No.2 layout in Brazil at the end of August.

Some will be surprised that we’ve listed the Olympic course in our new 2016 Brazilian Top 20. Those that have been lucky enough to experience it may be amazed that it’s not the country’s new No.1, others will raise an eyebrow over its inclusion, as it’s not yet open for general play. We decided to take the long view and include it.

Santapazienza Golf Club

However, the most exciting course to open recently in South America bowled onto the stage in 2015 after many years in the making. You could say that the Olympic is the course you can play and our new No.1, Santapazienza, is the one you can’t. It’s rather like the Pebble Beach and Cypress Point dichotomy. However, there is no doubt in our mind that Santapazienza is worthy and even Tom Fazio (who’s seen a design or two) was in raptures:

“The land is spectacular, with water features, great trees and big elevation changes. We were given the freedom to explore ways to maximize the potential of the land and… I believe we have created a golf experience unlike any in the world.”

Fazenda Boa Vista (Palmer) photo by Antonio Carlos Miranda

So, for the first time ever, I think, we have a new national No.1 and No.2. We also have a brand new entry at #4, which suggests to me that golf in Brazil is not resting on its laurels. According to Thad Layton, senior architect at Palmer design, the Palmer course at Fazenda Boa Vista was designed with three primary objectives in mind: strategy, sustainability, and fun. Wide fairways, a minimalist number of bunkers and an array of recovery options ensure no two players take the same route to the hole.

It has therefore been a rather tough period for the established Brazilian courses where we witness no upward movement whatsoever. Unfortunately, despite being ranked #3 by a certain American golf magazine in their 2016 Brazil Top 10, Costa do Sauipe in Bahia, closed last year and is sadly no longer in play.

All this proves beyond doubt that local knowledge is priceless and I’m extremely grateful to our man on the ground in Brazil, Alexandre Vasarhelyi, who has worked tirelessly to help us assemble this latest Top 20. We always do our best with every ranking table but we felt we’d go the extra mile this time due to this year’s focus on the country as a whole, and also due to the fact that it has been four years since we’ve performed a review of Brazil’s golf courses.

We never claim to be definitive as there’s always scope for improvement and not everyone will agree with our new Top 20. If you’re a doubting Thomas let us know, but don’t just complain, share your opinion objectively and we’ll investigate and perhaps reflect your views next time round.

Finally, I’d like to thank Dan Blankenship (Brazil’s most prolific golf course architect) who was not only insightful, but also extremely helpful.

Rank/ Course Move
1 Santapazienza New entry
2 Rio 2016 Olympic Golf Course New entry
3 Terravista Down 2
4 Fazenda Boa Vista (Palmer) New entry
5 Ilha de Comandatuba (Ocean) Down 2
6 São Paulo GC Down 1
7 São Fernando Down 5
8 Fazenda da Grama No change
9 Gávea No change
10 Alphaville Graciosa No change
11 Quinta da Baroneza No change
12 Damha Down 6
13 Itanhanga Down 9
14 Porto Alegre Down 1
15 Curitibano Down 1
16 Guarapiranga New entry
17 Brasilia New entry
18 Goiania New entry
19 Iberostar Praia do Forte New entry
20 Aquiraz Riviera New entry

Click the link to see full details of our 2016 Top 20 Golf Courses in Brazil

Keith Baxter
Top 100 Golf Courses