The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

April 22, 2012

Hanse wins honor of designing golf course for 2016 Olympics

Gil Hanse is the man of the hour.

Never heard of him?

Well, he is charged, at least by some pie-in-the-sky promoters of global golf, in getting amateur and pro golf off the ground in countries or regions where there has never been great interest in the game.

Hanse is the guy whose concepts for an Olympics-worthy golf course in Rio de Janeiro took out such heavyweights as Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam and a handful of top golf course architects.

So, if you’re watching the 2016 Olympics on television and happen to flip onto the golf competition, you’ll be watching players on Hanse’s championship course.

Personally, I had never heard of the guy. But then he’s never heard of me, either, so I guess we're even.

He apparently is good, maybe more than merely good. You don’t often get a golf committee to cold-shoulder Player, Sorestam and Nicklaus. They are the game’s superstars who have deigned to step down off Olympus and put their products out for critical scrutiny.

I am intrigued, surprised and a bit bewildered by the committee’s decision. You might think that Sorenstam, Player or Nicklaus would have a lock, but not so. I have this image of the three of them standing in line, each clutching blueprints tightly in their sweaty hands, waiting for their time to make carefully prepared presentations that could add new luster and prestige to their already prestigious professional careers.

So what turned committee members off the plans of the playing architects?

Money is my first guess. They, I suspect, are expensive. Not just because of the gold in their names, but for the private or resort courses they have designed or re-designed over the years.

The bookies couldn’t have favored Hanse to win in such august company. He has been called a minimalist. But what does that mean? That he accepts what the land gives him? That he doesn’t push tons of black dirt from here to there to achieve a particular look? That he doesn’t reroute rivers or clearcut stands of trees?

I really don’t know.

But Hanse, no matter how good his Rio project turns out, has a massive task in meeting the expectations of some people. For more than a year, the public was told that the Olympic course is destined to become a global symbol and showcase for expansion of golf into sports cultures of faraway lands.

Golf has already undergone a major shift. Europe is emerging as the equal of the United States on the global golf stage, and Asia may be less than a half-step back.

Like most golfers, I await the return of golf to the Olympics and hope that the Rio experience accomplishes all that organizers want: More golfers — men and women — worldwide. But that could be a stretch.  

Sports Hall of Fame

The Joplin Sports Authority’s 12th annual four-man scramble is scheduled Saturday, May 12, at Schifferdecker Municipal Golf Course. The event is held to celebrate the 2012 Joplin Sports Hall of Fame inductees.

The entry fee is $50 per player. A shotgun start is planned at 8 a.m. The field will be limited to 100 golfers and entry deadline is April 27.

Checks should be made payable to the Joplin Sports Authority, P.O. Box 2359, Joplin, Mo. 64803.

Maple Leaf

   The 22nd annual Maple Leaf two-lady scramble will be played Tuesday, May 8, at the Carthage Municipal Golf Course.

Entry fee is $55. Registration will begin at 8 a.m., with a 9 a.m. shotgun start.

Scramble

The Wyandotte Nation’s four-person scramble will be played Friday, May 18, at Eagle Creek Golf Club. A shotgun start is set for 9 a.m.

The entry fee of $300 per team should be submitted with entry form to Sherri Clemons, Wyandotte Nation, 64700 E. Hwy. 60, Wyandotte, Okla. 74370 . Three prizes will be awarded as well as prizes for longest drive, closest to the pin and longest putt.

Rotary Club scramble

The Carthage Rotary Club four-person scramble is scheduled Friday, May 11, at Carthage Municipal Golf Course. Entry fee is $250 per team and a shotgun start is planned at 1 p.m.

Flights and prizes will be determined by the number of entries. An awards dinner following the tournament will be sponsored by Leggett & Platt Inc. and Arvest Bank.

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