Golf Digest, an American magazine and the world’s most important golf publication awarded the Green Star Award 2016 to the Rio 2016’s Olympic Golf Course. The prize is granted to courses that show a special dedication to the protection of the environment. It is the first time that the award is given to a golf course outside the United States. The magazine says that the Olympic Golf Course received it due to the rigorous environmental parameters taken to build it.
The magazine makes references on its August issue to the report released by an independent expert named by the Minister of Justice in Rio de Janeiro, which concludes that the creation of the course increased the biodiversity in the area. The works increased by 167% the number of native vegetation species and more than doubled the existence of fauna in situ, since June 2013. In the 80’s and 90’s the property had suffered an extreme deterioration as a consequence of the sand extraction done on a regular basis, apart from being used as a deposit for pre-casted concrete pieces.
“The award is a recognition of a long-planned and well-executed project. It has received critics that have proven to be unjustified, as it was finally approved with accolades in an expert’s report and is now recognized as an outstanding project by a specialized magazine. Not to mention that we created parks in the region whose total area is almost three times larger than Parque do Flamengo’s. We are really happy with the news”, stated Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro.
As a result of the City Hall’s initiative to find an economic model to reduce the use of public resources, the golf course was entirely built by the private sector, and managed by the Brazilian Golf Confederation (CBG) since November 2015. The entity will continue managing the course after the Games, when it will become a public golf course during a 20-year period and anyone paying the green fee will be able to play. The Olympic competitions will happen on August 11-14 (men’s rounds) and August 17-20 (female’s rounds).
During the construction and even after the green was ready, the maintenance team was forbidden to use chemical products to exterminate invasive vegetation – everything is manually cleaned. Artificial fertilizers are not allowed as well: the Olympic golf Course’s team produces nutrients from organic compost. “What convinced us to award the prize to the OGC in Rio was a family of burrowing owls that live there. They symbolize perfectly how well golf can be played in harmony with nature”, states the Golf Digest’s text.
The venue will be the national headquarter for the “Golf for Life” program, one of the largest golf-related social inclusion projects, which has already trained 350 sports educators around Brazil and has introduced the sport to almost 80,000 people (the majority of them are children) in public and private schools, Olympic centers, low-income centers and events, such as the Transforma Sports Festival – a partnership between the Rio City Hall and the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee. The course will have a golf academy for beginners and high-performance athletes alike.