Brazil: sun, sea, samba - and golf?

2013 09 Sauipe Golf
It might be better known for samba dancing and football but Brazil is fast becoming one of the world’s most talked-about golfing destinations.

That, of course, is largely due to the fact the country will stage golf’s return to the Olympics after an absence of more than 100 years when Rio de Janeiro stages the 31st edition of the Games in 2016.

Work on the purpose-built Gil Hanse-designed course in the Barra da Tijuca region of Rio is underway and tentatively scheduled for completion by the end of 2014.

However, for those who care to look beyond this layout, there are plenty of other fantastic places to play golf in what is the biggest country in South America and the fifth largest in the world.
Costa do Sauipe is part of a sprawling resort on the ‘Coconut Coast’, a 125-mile stretch of beaches

One of the finest venues in the country is unquestionably Terravista Golf Club, which is located in the golf-rich Bahia region in the north east of the country. Designed by American architect Dan Blankenship, the course opened in 2004 and offers some awesome sea views over the Atlantic Ocean on the back nine. Watch out for the 14th, a quirky little par-3 which sits 150 feet above the sea.

Also found in the Bahia district is Costa do Sauipe, pictured. It is part of a sprawling resort on the ‘Coconut Coast’, a 125-mile stretch of beaches lined with coconut trees, sand dunes, rivers, lakes and mangrove marshes just a few miles north of the city of Salvador. The course was designed by Brian Costollo and opened in 2000 to much acclaim.

Sao Fernando, Itanhanga and Sao Paolo also come highly recommended, as does another Brian Costello design, Fazena da Grama, which is just an hour’s drive from downtown Sao Paolo.

Meanwhile, one of the older clubs in the country is Gavea, which is (for now) widely-regarded as Rio de Janeiro’s crown golfing jewel.

Formed in the early 1920s, it was in fact designed by a Scotsman - Arthur Morgan from Peterhead - before being modified in the early 1930s. Sitting in the shadow of Pedra da Gavea, an enormous rocky outcrop, it is a fun, short course.

It might be in the headlines right now because of the Olympics but there is far more to golf in Brazil than you might at first think.

FLIGHTS

British Airways fly from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen to Rio via London.

CURRENCY

The currency in Brazil is the Real. Currency exchange rate: R$1 - £0.34

NUMBER OF CLUBS

At present, there are over 100 golf courses in Brazil, with up to 30 more in development.

GREEN FEES

Rates in Brazil average out between $75-100 although some are as low as $40.

 

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