Golf course designer in bid for 2016 Olympics

Next week, though, its world-renowned architecture for the first time must stand the test of the girls – and on the biggest stage possible.

Managing director Ross Perrett flies with his team to Brazil on Monday to present their design for the 2016 Olympic course as golf prepares for its return to the Games after a 112-year absence.

The company is one of eight still in the running to design the course – at Barra da Tijuca, on the southwestern outskirts of Rio de Janeiro – against the likes of design luminaries Gary Player, Tom Doak and Robert Trent Jones.

But with the course brief mandating it be suitable for both male and female tournaments, other contenders Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus have called in arguably women’s golf’s biggest names, Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam, respectively.

Not to be outdone, Thomson Perrett has enlisted Aussie World Golf Hall of Fame member Karrie Webb, a keen student of course architecture, as the companies battle with the short turnaround from expression of interest to full-blown design presentation.

Webb has spent time in Melbourne in the past fortnight as Perrett finalised his design, the last of the eight to be presented on February 1.

A jury of four – representing the Rio council, International and Brazilian golf federations and the IOC – will then make a decision to be announced the following week.

Far from being fearful of some of world golf’s biggest names, Perrett and legendary partner Peter Thomson are thrilled to have their shot at the unique opportunity.

“We were happy to make the short-list, but now we’re there, we want to win it,” he said.

“Our company is probably a bit too humble … but we’ve done more than 200 courses in 30 countries and I think we have as good a shot as anyone.

“Karrie has been a great help. Her ideas have been really valuable because we haven’t really had to design a course before that’s capable of holding both men’s and women’s tournaments.”

Perrett said the dual-sex design was not only a matter of different teeing grounds, but also taking into consideration the different approach shots required once a hole reached its turning point.

“These are things we’re really confident about … so fingers crossed.”

Perrett would not reveal any details of his plan, only to say it would be a par-72 course true to the links-style coastal land on which it will be built.

“It’s relatively flat, has a high water table and has a fair bit of birdlife – there are a lot of things to consider from an environmental perspective, which we’re really good at.”

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