Olympic Preview: Golf's Footprint In Brazil
Can golf take root in the host country when the Olympics are over?
Released on 8/3/2016
Once they decided to build this golf course
I think they really thought it could be
the beginning of birth, not a rebirth,
but a birth for golf in Rio and in Brazil.
I think as a middle class was being created
by the economic prosperity of eight, nine,
10 years ago, they really thought that there
was a population that would take advantage
of this new Olympic golf course.
One of the great public courses in the world.
Unfortunately, the economy's tanked.
There is no middle class.
There's really no population to take advantage of this.
Now because of the economic disaster
and the corruption in government,
right now it's a troubled spot.
But I believe sort of caught up in the exuberance
of being one of vaunted brick countries
and leading world economy, the Olympics decided
it deserved its own golf course.
I think if your tried to find the average
Brazilian golfer, there are about four or five
golf courses you could go to in the country
and find all of them.
It's really not a well established sport.
I think the main knock on growing golf globally
is you think of it as this sport where
you need huge financial resources.
Golf can't really exist in places
that are still trying to sort of get
their head above water economically.
The cradle of golf in Rio is this beautiful
little golf course called Gavea Golf and Country Club.
It is majestic.
It's right up against these volcanic mountains.
It's got elevation changes of 150 feet.
You see hang gliders taking off from this perch
way up on top of one of the mountains.
When I was at Gavea, I met a woman named Vicky White
who is the first female South American member of the RNA
and a member of Gavea.
15 years ago she helped found the first public golf course
in the entire country of Brazil.
It's kind of amazing.
She founded it not just to build a golf course
but to become a golf academy and to give
children in one of the poorest communities in Brazil,
one of the poorest and most violent communities in Brazil,
a chance, a chance to get an education,
a chance to get some health care,
a chance to learn a game through which they might
learn some discipline and get a measure
of hope in the future.
It's about 70 minutes from Rio by car,
takes 130 children every year.
Each of them attends three days a week.
They learn golf.
They have tutoring.
They have medical visits.
They have some food provided.
It's become not just a place where children
can learn to succeed but it's employed
15 or 20 people, most of whom were former caddies
at Gavea and become a real bastion of hope
in kind of a hopeless part of the world.