3 months later, Olympic Golf Course is totally empty

Remember all the great things that were supposed to happen with the building of the Olympic golf course in Rio de Janeiro?

Forgetting about the environmentally degrading debacle of building the course and the absurdity of the fact that, well, there was no need to build a course in the first place, the Rio course is proving to be the pointless exercise many feared it would be.

But the locals will love it! They’ll pour in from the favelas and sewage-flooded beaches to shell out 75 bones to play Gil Hanse’s track! It’s a legacy course!

Yeah. That hasn’t happened.

According to an Agence France-Presse report: the Olympic Golf Course is becoming as desolate as Olympic facilities in, say, Sarajevo or Beijing. The AFP says that employees only see a “trickle of players” at the course daily.

And with green fees ranging from $74 to $82, it’s little surprise that, in a country where average family incomes barely exceed $10,000, few are willing/able to plunk down the cash to play the course where Justin Rose snagged a gold medal.  

The scene inside the largely unfinished clubhouse is comically ridiculous: One waiter and one other employee to collect greens fees.

Progolf is the company charged with course maintenance, but as the AFP finds (you guessed it), there’s not much maintaining going on. The Brazilian Golf Confederation hasn’t paid Progolf in months. And with no desire to continue mowing fairways on a pro bono basis, Progolf could be out of Rio faster than Ryan Lochte.    

Not surprisingly, if Progolf goes packing, it wouldn’t take more than a month for the course to die (longer than the Ryan Lochte brand), per employees. And wildlife has already started to invade the course from the abutting nature reserve, which really might be for the best.   

Also, nobody is flying to Rio to play the Olympic Course. Brazil’s capital is already adequately served by two existing courses. And nobody plays golf in Brazil anyway! According to figures from the New York Times, there’s one golf course in Brazil for every 1.6 million people. In the U.S. there’s one course per every 22,000 people.

This doesn’t mean that some organization isn’t going to step in to prop up the course. Given the steep barriers to entry in the game and the relative poverty of the majority of Brazilians, the Olympic course was never going to be self-sustaining.

It’s best to let nature reclaim this mess.