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Overdue plans for Olympic golf course finally get under way

Golf's long-awaited return to the Olympics has not been without its problems but Peter Dawson, the chief executive of the Royal & Ancient, is hopeful that one major issue will soon be resolved; the construction of the actual course itself.

Work on the site in Rio de Janeiro, host city of the 2016 Games, was set to start last October but a legal wrangle over the ownership of the land where the course is to be laid out has led to a considerable delay.

As the president of International Golf Federation (IGF), the unified body of major governing bodies that came together to drive golf's ultimately successful bid for Olympic inclusion for the first time since 1904, Dawson is understandably eager to see a spade thrust into the ground.

Gil Hanse, the American course designer whose portfolio includes the current Scottish Open venue of Castle Stuart near Inverness, was chosen as the Olympic venue's architect early last year and Dawson is confident that his plans will swiftly take shape and that the hold up will not disrupt preparations for test events planned for 2015.

"We're hoping to get permission through in the next seven to 10 days and then we're off and running," revealed Dawson. "It's a frustration and a worry. I didn't expect to appoint the architect a year ago and next to nothing to have happened in the mean time, that's for sure. Progress has been disappointing. Rio 2016 know about it, the International Olympic Committee know about it. There's still time and it is a priority."

While the palaver over the course rumbles on, the dilemma facing Rory McIlroy, the world No 1 from Northern Ireland, brought golf at the Olympics into the headlines at the start of the year.

McIlroy could represent Ireland or Great Britain in Brazil but floated the possibility of not playing at all. "Play for one side or the other, or not play at all because I may upset too many people," he said. "Those are my three options. I'm considering very carefully."

Dawson appreciates the awkward position McIlroy has found himself in and added: "I sympathise with Rory enormously, and Graeme (McDowell) too. We will see what we can do to help. I'm not sure what we can do as the IGF but I am investigating it. I'm sure he would prefer it to be taken out of his hands."

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