Olympic success for Frederico Santa-Bárbara

Golf returns to the Olympics in Brazil this summer for the first time since 1904 in St. Louis and Ricardo Gouveia and Justin Rose, men likely to be flying the flag for Portugal and the UK respectively, will reap the rewards of Cascais-born, Frederico SantaBárbara’s dedication. While he may not be a household name the contribution of 35 year old Santa-Bárbara to reviving Olympic golf cannot be underestimated. SantaBárbara has played golf since he was six and is director of the internationally renowned company Ransomes Jacobsen which is providing much of the specialised equipment for the new course in Rio de Janeiro. He is a major player in ensuring that the gold standard facilities are maintained throughout the competition.


The 35 hectare course is in the Rio suburb of Barra da Tijuca, seven kilometres from the Olympic Village, and Frederico looks forward to his dream of a wonderful new course becoming reality. “Conditions are spectacular. If you put your foot on the ball in the grass and take it away the ball rises and it always seems as if it is sitting on a tee.” Santa-Bárbara is fiercely proud of his contribution to a process which he describes as being “historic”. By the time preliminary test events have taken place this year around 35 Jacobsen machines will have been at work on the fledgling course and that number will double when the Olympic male and female events ­ with 60 participants in each ­ take place. “It’s the first time a golf tournament will last two weeks and as the grass will be under tremendous stress it is necessary to make two daily cuts,” explains Santa-Bárbara. Now residing in Rio, he has provided a weekly input at the evolving site since work commenced in 2013. From the initial stages of moving earth to laying turf Santa-Bárbara has been immersed in the creation of the course. Turfing began in May 2014 and the delivery of 18 Jacobsen machines soon followed consisting of three Eclipse 2 walking greens mowers, two Eclipse 322 hybrid powered ride-on greens mowers, four Greens King walking mowers, one SLF1880 super light fairway mower, two LF3800 fairway mowers, three Turfcat rotary mowers, two UK-built TR3 reel mowers for tees and surrounds and a GA30 pedestrian aerator. “The Eclipse mowers are an important part of the package,” explained Frederico Santa-Bárbara. “A key element is that there is absolutely no possibility of an oil spill on the greens because these are hybrid machines and do not use hydraulic oil.” Santa-Bárbara’s contribution to conserving the environment with land restoration and green space being created will also be deservedly showcased to a global Olympic audience this year. Improvements in the ecosystem will protect and encourage native plants and local wildlife in what is a magnificent combination of nature with golf and machinery. Frederico Santa-Bárbara’s flair and skilful use of modern, advanced equipment has helped to create a masterpiece of golf course design that will endure as a lasting Olympic tribute to the passion and skill of the modest man from Cascais.