It was during a tough economic spell for North American golf architects in the early 1930s that the design company of Thompson, Jones and Thompson Ltd made the ambitious move to branch out into golf projects in Brazil, of all places.
The legendary Stanley Thompson, principal in the firm, most likely obtained the work through his brother in law, a director of the Brazilian Traction company, and both Stanley and his brother Bill were only too pleased to utilize the talents of a junior partner, young Robert Trent Jones, in the South American venture.
British railway engineers formed the São Paulo Golf Club at the start of the 20th century. Twenty years later, club members would be playing one of the finest courses on the continent when work on the layout was completed.
As the “Saturday Evening Post” in the United States would later report, Stanley Thompson “was remembered as the Canadiano who, in 1935, arranged for a festive dedication of a combination golf course, air field and polo grounds. During the ceremony, the planes flew so low that the horses bolted and knocked down an admiral who was personally representing President Getulio Vargas.”
The course today is completely hemmed in by housing and industrial buildings on all sides as the city of São Paulo has expanded over time. The surroundings don’t detract though from a classic layout that has stood the test of time very well. Tree-lined fairways are draped over an aesthetically pleasing tract of land where water plays its part in proceedings on the loop around holes 11 to 13 as well as at the conclusion to both nines on holes 9 and 18.
The Brazil São Paulo 500 Years Open was held here in 2000, the second of two European PGA Tour events held in the country that year to mark the discovery of Brazil by Pedro Alvares Cabral in 1500. Padraig Harrington lost in a playoff at the other tournament in Rio de Janeiro but he won the São Paulo competition by two strokes with a 14 under par total of 270.