Countdown to Rio Follows Seven-Year Journey of Golf’s Return to the Olympics from: Golf Being Voted Back in as Olympic Sport in 2009; Initial Course Architect Pitches; & Building of the Course Venue
(ORLANDO, Fla.) – After the most recent major champions in the 2016 professional golf season are crowned this Sunday at the PGA Championship and RICOH Women’s British Open, the golf industry will turn its attention to the sport’s return to the Olympics for the first time in 112 years, with Golf Channel providing coverage from the first tee shot to the final putt of both the men’s and women’s competitions. Golf Channel will kick off its more than 300 total hours of Olympic-themed programming with Countdown to Rio, premiering this Sunday, July 31 at 9 p.m. ET, immediately following Golf Central Live From the PGA Championship.Seven years in the making, filming for Countdown to Rio dates back to when the IOC officially voted golf back in as an Olympic sport in October 2009, and closely follows the events that unfolded in the subsequent years, including:
October 2009 – Vote Returns Golf as an Olympic Sport for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Countdown to Rio chronicles the steps taken leading up to golf’s return to the Olympics, including the 18-month process of the International Golf Federation (IGF) making presentations to the IOC. Much of the focus centers around the potential for golf in the Olympics to act as a major catalyst in development of the game around the world.
January 2012 – Legends, Golf Architects Pitch to Design Olympic Golf Venue
With Golf Channel’s exclusive, inside access as the only cameras present in the room, Countdown to Rio reveals never previously seen footage of the architect’s presentations from the eight finalists who pitched to design the Olympic golf venue in Rio. The eight finalist groups feature some of the game’s biggest legends and golf architects, among them: Jack Nicklaus/Annika Sorenstam, Greg Norman/Lorena Ochoa, Gary Player, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Tom Doak, and Gil Hanse/Amy Alcott. Cameras capture the moment in which Gil Hanse learns his team had been chosen to construct the course.
“You sort of start to handicap [your chances] from a design standpoint. ‘Could we hold our own with these eight groups?’ And I felt like we could. Then you start to think politically. ‘Are we as connected? Do we have as big of a presence?’ No. So then it becomes, ‘We really need to work our butts off to design something good.’” – Gil Hanse
“The gold medal is going to be the biggest prize in golf” – Jack Nicklaus
“As you look out to 2020, 2024 and 2028… And let’s just assume golf is in there. This Rio design job is going to carry that torch.” – Greg Norman
“The Olympic Games, that’s the ultimate” – Gary Player
Spring 2012 – Following Hanse and His Initial Work in Rio
Countdown to Rio follows Gil Hanse in the subsequent months after he was initially awarded the job to construct the Olympic Golf Course. Cameras follow Hanse from the early days of the construction process, where bulldozers are used to clear the land and route the holes, and ultimately begin to shape the land into a golf course setup suited for competition.
September 2013 – “Check-in” Survey Evaluating Progress of Olympic Golf Venue
Representatives from the IGF and Rio Organizing Committee meet with Hanse to survey the progress, and areas still needed to address on the course project.
March 2016 – Olympic Test Event Staged at Newly Designed Golf Venue
In an effort to gauge the readiness of the newly constructed course setup for Olympic competition, a dedicated test event was held earlier this year to ensure the playability of the venue. Cameras were on-site to chronicle the competition and capture the reactions from those in the field after having played the new layout.
Hanse Offers Exclusive Tour of the Olympic Golf Course for Golf Channel Digital
Following the completion of the golf course design process, Gil Hanse welcomed Golf Channel cameras for an exclusive tour of the golf course. Hanse shares insight on the course’s front and back nines, and explains what went into constructing an ideal venue fit for a global Olympic test for both the men’s and women’s competitions.
Frank Nobilo’s Tee-to-Greens Prepare Viewers for New Venue
Golf Channel analyst Frank Nobilo spent time in Rio filming his signature Tee-to-Greens segments on the Olympic Golf Course. Nobilo details which holes will likely prove pivotal as players compete for their chance to win an Olympic medal.