GEO - As the head superintendent of the course what was your role in the building of the course? How did you become involved and what interested you most about the course?
Neil - My role was construction Superintendent overseeing the crew, procurement of products, correct placement of materials for the shapers, assisting the shapers, conducting site meetings, overseeing the correct installation of the irrigation system and assisting the golf course architect and irrigation designer when and where necessary. Other duties included general assistance through the construction stage to get ready the golf course for the grassing phase.
I got involved through sources that asked if I would be interested in this project, then attended the interview process and was chosen to be the Superintendent. My interest in the project was the design, location and the fact that this project was to be the first designed in over 100 years golf course to hold the Olympic Golf event.
GEO - What can people expect when playing and visiting Rio Olympic Golf Course with respect to both the way it plays and the experience of the surroundings?
Neil - Players can expect a golf course that plays like a links golf course and has a similar vista to a links golf course but without a direct ocean view. The weather, especially the wind plays a major role in how the golf course plays and how the player plays his or her round of golf. The golf course is a thinking golfers course meaning the players will need to maneuver their golf balls in the correct places to make the best possible score on each hole that they can according to their individual ability. The golf course has native plant life corridors between golf holes that compliment both the environment and golf course in general.
GEO - What do you feel are the aspects which make Rio Olympic Golf Course, the way it was designed, built and being maintained, unique in comparison to other golf courses?
Neil - There are very few golf courses in Brazil that mimic the design and environment of the ROGC. The design and construction of the ROGC compliments the local environment with a high standard of sustainability which is continued on a daily basis through golf course maintenance and in addition the protection of the native corridors throughout the golf course. The local wildlife have free roam and range with vegetation that suits their individual diets. The range of species of fauna and flora continues to evolve as the ROGC matures.
GEO - What were the main considerations for you around sustainability and responsible golf course management during the construction of Rio Olympic Golf Course that you apply in the day-to-day management of the course.
Neil - To safeguard and protect the environment that enveloped the design so that the golf course and playable golf corridors could survive hand in hand together as one parcel of land and to encourage local native species of fauna and flora to colonize specific areas for the benefit of both golf and environment. The removal of non native, exotic species of plant life to reduce the invasive progress of unwanted species to allow the native species to thrive naturally throughout the ROGC. To avoid contamination of protected areas during construction, grow-in and maintenance of the golf course on a daily basis. The maintenance of the golf course is monitored in a way whereby products and irrigation is a minimalist approach to ensure a healthy playable golf course is attained for all to enjoy while the surrounding environment has the ability to thrive under its own growth pattern and progress through the differing seasons.