HOYLAKE, England – Officials from the International Golf Federation gathered on Monday at Royal Liverpool to announce the creation of a new Olympic Golf Ranking, but what everyone really wanted to talk about was the languid progress that is being made at the course in Rio that will host the 2016 Games.
After numerous missed deadlines and legal wrangling, water started flowing in the course’s irrigation system earlier this year and Ty Votaw, an IGF vice president, said crews have started to sod many of the holes.
“It’s taken us much longer to get to where we are and there was some frustration along the way,” Votaw said.
But Votaw said there has been an uptick at the Rio site in recent months and that officials are confident the layout would be ready in time for the ’16 Games, as long as the current state of construction continues.
Video: What is Plan B if course isn't ready? (Click here for full news conference)
“While we are encouraged by recent progress there is still more work to do,” he said.
Officials still plan to play a test event on the Olympic golf course, either in late 2015 or early ’16, but that would not leave enough time to make any significant changes to the Gil Hanse design before the Games are played.
Votaw acknowledged that there are contingency plans in place in case the Rio course is not ready in time for the Games, but declined to provide any specifics as to what, or where, that might be.
The rankings, which GolfChannel.com first reported on last week, will be released after this week’s championship and will dovetail with the Official World Golf Ranking for the men and Rolex rankings for the women. It will provide a weekly snapshot of the developing 60-player fields until the teams are finalized on July 11, 2016.
Based on recent models, officials will likely have to dip down to around 300th in the ranking to fill the men’s field for the Games and even deeper – current models project out to 450th in the world – to complete the women’s draw.
“It’s a function of what the criteria is,” Votaw said. “We wanted to be sure it wasn’t just the golf nations involved. We wanted a much broader field and we think that is good for the growth of the game all around the world.”