Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Olympic Fever - Catch It Or Else

You vill watch the Olympic golf and you vill like it....Or not.

The Course, Or "Z" Is For Zoysia - Bear with us here, as we're going to talk turf and bunkers sand, though for those of a more visual nature we'll also have some cute wildlife.

I know you thought "Z' (oh heck, it's the Olympics, that would be zed) was for Zika, but we have a newish strain of Zoysia making its debut:
Zeon Zoysia is a durable, warm-weather grass developed 5,000 miles from Rio in tiny 
Shall we clean and roll a couple to get us through this post?
Poteet, Tex., a town of 3,260 best known as the home of the country singer George Strait and a strawberry festival.

Bred and developed over the past 20 years by Bladerunner Farms, a turf nursery 40 miles outside of San Antonio, Zeon Zoysia is making a global debut on Rio’s Olympic golf course. The grass could play a role in the sport’s potential growth, particularly in South America, an expanding market for course construction.
Shall we just call it Double Zed?   Why the fuss?
Zeon Zoysia requires less water, fertilizer, nitrogen and pesticide than most other types of golf turf, Doguet said. Perhaps most important, he said, it can endure Rio’s poor soil and water quality and meets the strict environmental regulations that prohibit the use of chemical fertilizers and weed killers on the course, which is on a nature preserve.
It's the Frank Sinatra of turf grass.... If you can make it there.... Joking aside, it's an interesting process and the turf's ability to survive such harsh conditions is important in maintaining courses in a wide variety of locales.
Doguet added that the turf is dense and stiff and props up the ball for cleaner contact and that it plays well in summer or winter, dry or wet.
It can't play worse than Bermuda.... but the talk has been that it favors the sweepers over those that take pelt-sized divots.

A Rainbow Coalition of Sand - You know that guy that thinks that every bunker should be identical?  That sound you hear is his head exploding, as we have intentionally differing sand utilized on the Olympic course:

While our industry leaders have failed us in their concept of Olympic golf, the one thing they got right was the architect.  I'm not implying that Coore-Crenshaw or Tom Doak wouldn't have also produced a fine venue, but the risk was always that they would go with the perceived big name, yanno, something that rhymes with pickless. gives it five stars, though that's all of one review written by some guy named Hanse.  But worth a quick read as he lays out his objectives in building it, and this video is a good preview as well:

If the discussion of bunker raking was of interest, I highly recommend this 2012 article from Shack on Aussie golf course etiquette.  If the bunker maintenance program has you yawning, you'll at the very least enjoy the signage on acceptable socks....

This 360 degree video narrated by Gil is also quite good:

This video sheds some interesting light on the near-miss in the Atlanta games, as well as Gil Hanse as a compromise pick (plus find out how George Lyons got screwed):

Usually committees renders camels, but this one worked out great....  The dangers are quite obvious from this history of the design bake-off:
Several of the design applicants brought on a woman partner to help strengthen their bid, which is why Nicklaus' pitch seemed so formidable when he enlisted Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam, who dabbles in course design.

Not only that, Nicklaus and Sorenstam had been prominent campaigners for golf's inclusion in the Olympics when the sport was awarded a spot in 2009. Norman had Lorena Ochoa on his team, and Thomson worked with another Australian icon, Karrie Webb. 
Hanse brought on Amy Alcott as a consultant and could not have been happier with her role. 
"Her being in the room I think gave us more credibility having a women's golf Hall of Famer up there," Hanse said. "She talked wonderfully about how she got into the game and how much this golf course could provide an opportunity going forward."
Dodged a couple of bullets there for sure....  Just think how many topless shots of The Shark we'd have endured had they gone in that direction.

Critters Run Wild -  The environmental wackos have had a field day with this project, forgetting that it was a dump before Gil got there.  Bot the entirety of it, of course, but this is Rio after all...  Now?
The Olympic Golf Course will be home to a variety of species taking in golf’s return to the Olympics Games in 112 years. Not that any of them are aware of the historical significance, mind you. Instead, this is home. 
Gil Hanse’s design stretching 7,000 yards is populated by an assortment of fuzzy and creepy creatures, including boa constrictors, three-toed sloths, monkeys and small crocodiles. Capybaras, a large rodent, are all around the course. 
A family of ground-nesting owls has set up home under the lip of a greenside bunker on the ninth hole. These class of owls will burrow holes but golfers need not worry, for they will get a free drop if their golf balls winds up in any of the holes.
This Shack post has some good pics, including Rickie eyeing a Cabybara:

They're pretty vile looking, though perhaps not as bad as Rickie's Rio haircut...

The Competition - I know, but they will actually play some golf....

here are the tee times for Thursday and Friday:

OK, we apparently need orange, green and blue bibs to tell the players apart, as if their unis and golf bags aren't sufficient.

Shack has a nice round-up of links here, including these comments on Team USA:
Also of note is the increasing excitement of players and caddies who are getting swept up 
in the Olympic spirit by attending other events and soaking up the thrill of being here. A visit to the massive and well-conceived Olympic Park means experiencing an epic concentration of energy from the many venues and party scene, which is highlighted by a pop-up disco and concert stage. I took in a captivating and loud Team Handball game featuring the home country, who fell after a valiant (and briefly bloody) comback effort. 
Team USA’s Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar practiced together under the watchful eye of dignitaries like course designer Gil Hanse, the IGF’s Ty Votaw (who did more work than anyone alive to get golf here), PGA Tour COO Jay Monahan and Kuchar’s wifeSybi. Various rules officials from the USGA, PGA Tour, European Tour and R&A were also out walking for pre-tournament recon studies. 
All three Americans were striking the ball beautifully and seemed to be genuinely thrilled to be here, as are their caddie. But it was Watson whose nifty punch, run and jab shots around the greens stood out almost as much as his unusually chipper mood. A happy Bubba is a dangerous Bubba. Issue a flood watch if they are playing the anthem for him Sunday evening.
Was Patrick Reed voted off the island?  or is he back to his not-playing-well-with-others persona....

No doubt the lads will have a good time, they're at the Olympics and there's beach volleyball to watch.  The question is whether any of the energy comes from the actual golf.

Yesterday I hear one of the Golf Channel commentators, I think it was Nobilo, speak of his eager anticipation for the opening tee shot, appropriately to be struck by a Brazilian.  I find myself agreeing, but curious as to what happens thereafter....  I'm guessing it will be a letdown, but I'll remind the reader that I'm the '62 Mets of golf predictions.

The Tour Confidential gurus took their stab at the meaning of things earlier in the week, so see what you think:
5.) At long last the much-debated Olympic golf event kicks off this week in Rio. What do you need to see from the competition to believe it can have a future beyond the 2020 Games in Tokyo?

Shipnuck: It’s been fun to read all the social media posts from the golfers who are in Rio, or en route. They’ve been swept up by the Olympic fever and are dying to be part of the show. I think they’ll play with a lot of heart and passion and help mitigate a lot of the damage. Here’s hoping, anyway.

Morfit: What if America doesn’t matter? What if Australia doesn’t matter? What if Ireland doesn’t matter? Golf is well established in those countries, so the defections by Jason, Dustin, Jordan and Rory could wind up being less important than we thought. What if Anirban Lahiri wins this thing? Then golf maybe becomes more of an enticing sport for kids in India, and Olympic golf has succeeded. If someone like Justin Rose wins for England, or Patrick Reed for the U.S., I applaud as fans of both players and both countries, but is it really going to make much of a difference?
Cam, where'd ya get all that lipstick?  And this:
6.) Would the event be better off with a brand name like Rickie or Bubba winning gold, or with a more anonymous player pulling off a Cinderella story?

Morfit: A brand name winner won’t help. In fact, it will only reinforce the criticism that this whole thing looks like just another golf tournament. Preferably we want a winner we’ve never even heard of, whose name seems to have too many consonants per vowel (or vice-versa). And he’d better cry at the medals ceremony. 
Shipnuck: Exactly. The longer the longshot, the better. I’m pulling for Mohammad Rahman, who looked utterly overjoyed carrying the flag for Bangladesh at the Opening Ceremony. 
Godich: I’m all for an underdog, provided he or she takes down a big name: Think Milan-Muncie Central, App State-Michigan (sorry, Ritter), Chaminade-Virginia, Boise State-Oklahoma.
So, a Mohammad Rahman-Bubba Watson playoff for gold?

I just can't see Thursday-Saturday providing much emotion, so it's all about Sunday....the final holes seem to provide for excitement, but the players will have to cooperate:

Nobody has mentioned this, but it's quite the opportunity for the ladies.....  they have all of their best players participating, and if Lydia, Brooke and perhaps Lexi can summon their best stuff, we might have something memorable.  Anyone know the New Zealand national anthem?  Of course, Danny Lee could steal Lydia's thunder....

Local Conditions - He seems to be taking it well, but Geoff's post on his room at the media village is just a hoot:
You know, $2000 for nine days of lodging just doesn't go as far as it used to. 
Somehow I made it to the swank Barra Media Village 1,taking almost as long from LAX to Sao Paolo as it took to get from Sao Paolo to this premier media residence.
Rio 2016 left out one small bit of info when I prepaid a year ago: a surprise roommate with another to come for our little two bedroom "villa". 
The chain-smoking roommate #1 is a swell chap and all, but apparently has some Alaskan Malamute in his genes based on the shedding he's done the first four days while using my shower instead of his. (I didn't ask for an explanation, though it wasn't because of the hot water supplied in mine, that I can confirm!) 
But at least he complained to housekeeping to get me my very own towel so I didn't have to use the only one in the villa and go to bed with his smoker essence! 
True fact movie buffs, the kitchen design in this "villa" was inspired by Hannibal Lector's cell in Manhunter (you know, the Michael Mann masterpiece starring Bryan Cox). Movie history in Rio!
Is he assuming that his roomie won't read his blog?  'Cause that could be awkward....

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