Date: August 07, 2016
Author: Brad James in Rio

Olympic Blog: Course has a homely feel

Golf Australia’s high performance director Brad James has set up camp in Rio in his role as assistant to team leader Ian Baker-Finch for the Australian Olympic golf team.

The pair and others in the Australian contingent have spent the past couple of days scouting the sparkling new Olympic course.

And with the Aussie team off to a hot start elsewhere, James says the course could play into our hands  …

If we were excited before the Games began, it’s hard to describe now.

With the first day of official competition in the books – especially with our Aussie archers and swimmers getting the medal haul going – the excitement around the village, the Australian teams and Rio generally has certainly increased.

For us in the golf team, our staff has spent the past two days walking the golf course to get a better understanding of how it will play.

We had the opportunity to meet course designer Gil Hanse and discuss the course briefly – a real treat.

It certainly has a Sandbelt feel to it with the bunkering having a very similar look to Royal Melbourne and many of the nearby courses.

There are some very wide fairways with some very difficult approach shots to a mix of  small and very large, undulating greens.

The course is in great condition – and it’s so rare to see no divots or ball marks on the fairways or greens because it’s purpose-built for the next two weeks.

The final three holes are going to be intriguing. They each offer an opportunity for big drama with 16 a driveable par four, 17 a short par three and 18 a short par five.

No lead will be safe, put it that way. 

And I have to say, it was absolutely fantastic to see both male and female athletes practising and playing today on the golf course.

The Australian caddies and male athletes arrive tomorrow morning and will look to see the golf course as soon as possible.

I know all of them have expressed an interest in watching other sporting events as well.

When they get to do that, we’ll have to make sure we send them off nice and early because with the events under way, transportation delays have also increased and getting to the venues is a time-demanding process.

What isn’t so demanding – and a really nice touch by the Australian Olympic Committee – is that we’re able to watch the footy from home with athletes and officials having free access to an AFL Global site.

As they say, you can take the boy out of Australia, but not the other way round!