RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Work has finally begun on the 2016 Olympic golf course after delays caused by a legal dispute over ownership of the site.

The organizing committee for the Rio de Janeiro Games said on Wednesday that clearing work had begun to remove "non-native vegetation" after a permit was issued by the city. Construction is set to begin in April and Carlos Nuzman, head of the organizing committee, said the course would be ready for a test event in 2015.

The move should come as a relief to the International Olympic Committee, which has repeatedly downplayed the ongoing legal dispute but was officially notified about it by court officials during a recent inspection visit to Rio. Two different companies have claimed ownership of the land, with one having announced plans to build a housing complex there instead.

"We are delighted that work has begun on the golf venue and we remain on track to deliver the golf course for a test event in 2015 as scheduled," Nuzman said in a statement.

The course is being designed by American Gil Hanse. The 2016 Games will be the first time golf has appeared in the Olympics since 1904 in St. Louis.

"We are very excited and pleased to have begun the initial clearing of the site," Hanse said. "It is the start of a long process to transform this property into a beautiful golf course, and we are happy to get started."

Work on the course was to have started six months ago, and organizers have said the delay was not related to the legal case.

The course will be built in an area of Rio called Barra, about 3 miles from the athletes' village.