(From left) American golfers Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson at the Olympic golf tournament last week. Kuchar took the bronze medal. Photo: David Doguet
David Doguet’s take-home message was as right as Rio de Janeiro’s sandy beaches.
“I guarantee you that golf in the Olympics is great for the game,” Doguet said.
Doguet, owner and president of Bladerunner Farms in Poteet, Texas, has been in Rio for about two weeks, spending most of his time at the Olympic Golf Course. Doguet has a special connection to the course. He bred the turf, Zeon zoysiagrass, on the course’s tees, fairways and roughs.
After the conclusion of the men’s tournament, won by Great Britain’s Justin Rose, Doguet was convinced that bringing golf back to the Olympics after 112 years was a good move, even if the world’s four top-ranked golfers declined to participate.
Gil Hanse’s stunning links-style design has turned out to be a star of the Olympic golf competition.
“All indications are the course is a huge success,” Doguet said. “Everyone that I have talked to, including some of the players’ representatives, say that the course design is great and that they love the grass. I heard that Bubba Watson said the course condition was the best the players had played on all year.”
Watson’s comment is not only a credit to the design, but to Neil Cleverly, the Olympic Course’s superintendent, and his crew. Keep in mind that many of Cleverly’s crew members have little golf course maintenance experience, let alone maintaining a course for an event with the stature of the Olympics.
“Neil and his crew [were] out of site until late afternoon [during the men’s tournament] and then all hell [broke] loose,” Doguet said. “It [was] an amazing sight to see when all those people and all that equipment hit the course.”
Much has been made in the mainstream media about the wildlife on the course, including the capybara, the world’s largest rodent. One news organization reported, “World’s Largest Rodents Take Over Rio’s Olympic Golf Course,” as if the capybaras were destroying the turf and chasing away golfers and fans.
“I am seeing all the stuff that is being written and getting a kick out of the reporting,” Doguet said. “The wildlife has not been any kind of a problem. The capybaras are so ugly, they are cute.”
Doguet had not seen what some — including Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy — had considered the biggest threat: a mosquito. Day, Spieth, Johnson and McIlroy, of course, bailed on the Olympics because of the Zika virus threat.
“We may get invaded at any moment, but for now things are good,” Doguet said of the mosquitoes. “I know the threat of the Zika virus was a concern, but for now everything is good. I have not heard many people talking about it.”
As a golf fan, Doguet was rooting for an American to medal, as Matt Kuchar did, taking the bronze. But Doguet also found himself feeling proud for Rose and Henrik Stenson, the Sweden who took the silver medal.
“I think that is the spirit of the Olympic games coming out in me,” Doguet said. “I believe that spirit has infected everyone here. Let the best players win.”