POSTED: January 16th 2012

IGF Executive Director Antony Scanlon talks about golf developments for the debut at Rio 2016

IGF Executive Director Antony Scanlon comes from a long background at the IOC sports department / SFC
IGF Executive Director Antony Scanlon comes from a long background at the IOC sports department / SFC

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA/LAUSANNE: After golf won a seat again on the Olympic program for the Rio 2016 summer Games many changes had to be put in place to organize the new debut.

Golf last appeared on the Olympic program in 1904 at the St. Louis Games and since then the game has grown massively around the world.

In fact there is more than meets the eye to the organization and running of the golf competitions for 2016 and sat down with International Golf Federation (IGF) Executive Director Antony Scanlon to learn all innovations of how the events will be staged.

What is the new structure that you have now in relation to dealing with the Olympic Games?

ANTONY SCANLON: That is the idea of the International Golf Federation (IGF), we are recognized by the IOC as the governing body of the sport within the Olympic Movement and our core objective is to deliver a great Games with the athletes that have qualified to be at the Olympics.

Can you explain a little about the structure?

ANTONY SCANLON: Golf has functioned without any centralized body governing the game. You have the R&A who produce the rules of the game in 99% of the world who plays golf. Then you have the USGA that has their rules as well which cover the USA, Canada, and Mexico.

So how have you dealt with the rules for the Olympic Games?

ANTONY SCANLON: So what has happened recently was the announcement for the rules that will be released in 2012. And you have the R&A and the USGA as they have been working together for quite a few years now and the gap between the two has disappeared.

And now they have jointly released the new rules under both their names. There were some sensible changes to the rules and they have been adopted by both the USGA and the R&A. And the new rule books that have been distributed around the world now are exactly the same. The USGA one is exactly the same as the R&A just with a different logo.

So now there is no real difference between the two. So for our competition it will be based on the USGA and R&A rules as is any tour event depending on the jurisdiction of where that event will be.

As a federation I doubt that we will ever be the controlling body for the rules of the sport and I don’t see that we need to. We are not unique, there are other sports that are in a similar situation.

So the IGF won’t govern the rules - then who will?

ANTONY SCANLON: We won’t govern the rules it will remain with the USGA and the R&A and everybody respects that.

Rio has launched the architectural design competition for the golf course in Rio for 2016. Have you given them a set of requisites and then they launched the appeal?

ANTONY SCANLON: The federation has worked really closely with Rio and I developed a request for proposal that was launched last October 14th. This was combined with the normal tender processes that the OCOG has including the legal requirements and transparency and also we have technical requirements in terms of course design and the type of layout of the topography of the land. So we have been fairly clear as to what we are looking for.

From that Rio has created the jury which consists of four key stakeholders. One of those is obviously the IGF because alternately when it comes to the field of play it is the federation’s responsibility to sign off on the appropriateness of the venue. So that they will certify that this is able to be played at the elite level.

So to ensure that the course meets the requirements we are a stakeholder and a representative on the jury.

We also have the Rio organizing committee represented because it is their responsibility to ensure that the venue is built. That is also shared by the other jury member which is the city of Rio who is the underwriter of the host city contract to build the venue.

Then the fourth member is what is known as the golf advisory committee which is effectively known as the legacy owner and manager and operator after the Games.

What is not certain is the business model on whether the course will be open to the public prior to the Olympics or not. I doubt it but there is still a possibility that it could be. Effectively they will manage and operate the venue post Games and the course itself. 

Part of the prerequisite is that this will be an open to the public venue. The business model will most likely be a combination of membership and pay to play.

There is no such course in Rio that is open to the public that is 18 holes. And given that it will be in Barra, which is where this course will be only ten minutes from the village, that is currently where a lot of hotel and tourist developments are going on in that region.

There will be a lot of golf tourism and many people will want to play the course.

So next step in the course design competition is that a fairly large number of participants have submitted documentation that effectively in this first phase discusses their suitability and experience in building courses for professional events or high quality events.

They also need to show within their teams the ability to handle the design process and be able to work with a constructor to build the course and get it done on time.

On December 2nd the jury selected the eight finalists: Gary Player Design, Greg Norman Golf Course Design, Hanse Golf Design, Hawtree Ltd., Nicklaus Design, Renaissance Golf, Robert Trent Jones II and Thomson-Perret Golf Course Architects. The winner will be disclosed possibly in February 2012. How does this process work?

ANTONY SCANLON:  The eight members will be invited to a seminar or a briefing in Rio itself which gives them an opportunity to talk through the second phase of the process. And that is where the real detail is in terms of the design and scope and the technical requirements that we have placed within the request for proposal.

So once the course builder is selected then who will pay for the course?

ANTONY SCANLON:  It is our understanding that the owner of the land will be funding the developing of the golf course so it will be privately funded and not publicly funded.  

So the responsibility at this stage is now for the owner of the land to be the developer of the course and to use private funding to do that.

Now the candidates will provide a concept draft of the course that is detailed, not to the level of detail that is needed for construction, but pretty close to it. They will present their concepts to the jury and the jury will deliberate and choose the winner.

Then the designer will have to get all the designs and drafts ready for the constructor to build the course and from that can be derived accurate costs and then the tender will go out for the constructor. I would anticipate that the winner of that tender would be a Brazilian company given that they are some of the biggest constructors in the world.

They themselves would contract specialists who assist in certain aspects of the construction of the course the shapers and the greens etc.

So they would sub-contract out where they need the expertise that might not be in Rio or in Brazil.

Part I of a multiple part series

Keywords · Rio 2016 · Antony Scanlon · golf · IGF

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