Golfing in Brazil

By | Category: Travel destinations
A bird's eye view of the new Marapendi course

A bird’s eye view of the new Marapendi course

At the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this year and for the first time in 112 years, golf is being reintroduced. The newly built, Marapendi Olympic golf course, will open especially for the championships.

Because of golf’s popularity around the world rather than just in Europe and North America, the International Olympic Committee decided that the sport should return to the Olympic Games. But just how popular is golf in Brazil and how good are the courses?

For a start there are about 75 courses compared to Scotland which has 552 and even Brazil’s southern neighbour, Argentina, has 319. It is estimated that there are under 20,000 golf players in the country which, as everyone, knows, is dominated by just one sport – football.

The Marapendi Olympic golf course is located in Barra da Tijuca, the district where the majority of Olympic venues are located. With panoramic views of Rio, the course is salt tolerant and specialist grass has been used that needs minimal watering, fertilisation and maintenance. After the Games, the course will open to the public to develop and promote the sport across the country.

The Terravista Golf Course in Trancoso is the most famous golf course in Brazil. Running along the high cliffs of the coastal village, the 18-hole course offers views of both the white beaches of Praia do Espelh and crystal blue lakes, and the green vegetation of the Atlantic rainforest. The front nine holes of the course take you deep into the rainforest, and the signature 14th hole perches right on the edge of a 50m cliff. From your tee box, you might even spot giant sea turtles swimming.

The Sao Paulo Golf Club was Brazil’s first ever golf club, founded in 1914. The club represents the history of golf in Brazil and the district of the original club became known as Morro dos Ingleses, ‘Hill of English,’ a name the upscale neighbourhood maintains today. However, region industrialised the club moved and settled in Santo Amaro where the club has remained ever since. The green fairways are lined with trees but are also now completely surrounded by residential and industrial buildings making it a little unusual compared to most golf clubs of which you will be aware.

The Itanhangá Golf Club was one of the contenders to host the golf event at the Olympics but lost out when the authorities decided to build one from scratch, if you’ll forgive the pun. Over 80 years old, the club is one of the most exclusive in Brazil and has a comparatively small area for the course with ponds (rather than lakes) and other water hazards to conquer.

The question is whether Olympics golf will encourage a greater interest in the game and prompt more people to take it up or whether it will remain a rather up-market game played by just the well-healed.

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