Two courses to break ground in Rio de Janeiro


Late this year, in a northern suburb of Rio de Janeiro, construction is scheduled to begin on a venue that aims to host some of the world’s most prestigious golf tournaments – but not, unfortunately for its developers, the one that will determine the gold, silver, and bronze medalists at the Olympic games of 2016.

The tournament-worthy course will be one of two 18-hole tracks slated to be built at Rio de Janeiro International Golf Club in Petropolis, the “Imperial City” of Brazil. Nick Faldo and Steve Smyers, its co-designers, have taken to calling it the “Top of the World” course, because it’ll perch on elevated property that offers made-for-television views of the surrounding countryside.

“This is an amazing property, both beautiful and dramatic, and I am confident that we can create a world-class golf facility here,” Faldo said in a prepared statement. “This truly will be golf on a grand scale, and in a magnificent, stage-like setting.”

The club will anchor the 2,750-acre Rio de Janeiro International Golf Resort, which has been master-planned to include a variety of housing types, four hotels, a convention center, soccer and tennis academies, a shopping area, a spa with a wellness center, restaurants, and other attractions. Besides the 18-hole courses, the club will feature a nine-hole, par-3 course and a Faldo-branded golf academy with what’s been described as a “practice course.”

The resort’s developers, a group that includes International Golf & Resort Management, Ltd., plan to break ground on the first phase of the project – consisting of the tournament course, the par-3 course, and an 850-room hotel – before the end of 2011. A construction schedule for the second course, a resort-style track that will wind its way through the property’s lowlands, hasn’t yet been set.

IGRM has in recent years developed a close working relationship with Faldo’s design firm. The companies – IGRM is based in London, while Faldo Design is in one of the city’s suburbs – are currently collaborating on at least three golf projects: Monte Rocha, a 1,250-acre community in the Alentejo region of southern Portugal that will feature an 18-hole championship-length course, a nine-hole executive-length course, and an academy with a par-3 course; Laguna Hue, a resort community in Thua Thien Hue Province, Vietnam that will have an 18-hole course; and the Vattanac resort in suburban Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which will include a pair of 18-hole championship-length layouts.

Faldo and Smyers also have a close working relationship. They’ve collaborated on a redesign of the Robert Trent Jones-designed course at St. George’s Golf Club on the island of Bermuda, a project that could begin later this year. They’ve also co-designed a course for Black Sand Golf Club outside Reykjavik, Iceland, though it’s currently on ice.

The tournament course at Rio de Janeiro International is expected to be ready for play in early 2014. Though it won’t serve as the Olympics’ host course, it figures to be among the top-rated layouts in greater Rio, where the existing pickings are slim. Metropolitan Rio has just two existing courses, Gavea Golf & Country Club and Itanhanga Golf Club, neither of which pose a worthy challenge to professionals as currently constituted.

This story originally appeared in the World Edition of the Golf Course Report, in a slightly different form. For a sample copy of the World Edition, call 301/680-9460 or write to


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