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Beginners can feel at home in Cardiff
November 23, 2010

Cardiff golf centre managing director Phil Bowes can put numbers on The Ryder Cup effect - golfers coming onto his range up 25 per cent and lessons up 40 per cent from this time last year.

That has been the impact of one of the biggest sporting events on the planet being held in Wales , with interest levels soaring ever since Graeme McDowell beat Hunter Mahan on the 17th hole at The Celtic Manor to win The Ryder Cup for Europe.

Cardiff golf centre are looking to build on that enthusiasm thanks to a Ryder Cup Wales grant of over £30 , 000 , to improve their nine-hole course and also provide better starter facilities to help beginners feel at home on the range in the perfect surroundings.

Bowes is delighted with the effect The Ryder Cup has had on the interest in golf in Wales , with the new facilities aimed at encouraging even greater growth in the game.

"I have got one pro off for paternity leave and the other two cannot do any more - they are absolutely full up with people wanting to learn - and that is really unusual for November," he said.

"I am convinced it is The Ryder Cup. We were doing 40 per cent less last year, we have never had the uptake on offers like this.

"They have been queuing on the range in the evenings , whereas normally at this time of year you can pick your bay.

"The Ryder Cup has only been good for us. The biggest thing that has happened for us thanks to The Ryder Cup Wales grant would be the two have-a-go bays. Next year I am going to put someone in those bays from April to September for eight hours a day so anyone can go up there and have a professional to ask about anything from taking up golf to customised club fitting.

"We have all the custom fitting facilities there , video , TV and so on , but also people can just pick up a club for the first time and see how it goes.

"There is no other facility like it nearer than Bristol , these are pretty much unique in Wales .

"On the golf course itself we changed the greens around and made them larger , but the biggest thing was the improvement to the tees with a concrete base , sand-filled to take a tee peg with astroturf from America . It looks so much better as well and they are fantastic , everyone notices the difference.

"Over the past 10 year there have been fewer people hitting balls on driving ranges , because there are fewer club members. The people who just play occasionally normally just put the clubs in the garage over the winter, that is why this period now is so unusual."

"We were hoping that people would be energised by such an exciting Ryder Cup but this response is better than we had ever dreamed , " said Ryder Cup Wales chairman John Jermine.

"This is a great facility to begin the game and give it a go and with the driving range and the nine hole course there is something for everyone and we are delighted to have helped to make it even better.

"The Ryder Cup Wales Legacy Fund, that is financed by the Welsh Assembly Government, helped to build 40 new facilities throughout Wales and Cardiff golf centre is a great example of how bringing the Ryder Cup to Wales has changed the landscape of Welsh golf over the last eight years.

"Golf Development Wales is working hard to attract new players to the game and these new facilities mean that everybody has somewhere to play and hopefully take up golf as a sport for a lifetime.

"To see such a successful example of one our facilities attracting such huge numbers of extra people is very encouraging.

"A lot of people have put a lot of work into making the most of the benefits of hosting the Ryder Cup and there is still plenty to do but this is a great start and will leave a wonderful legacy for future generations to play and enjoy golf."

All Local Authorities and clubs in Wales were invited to apply for grants from the Ryder Cup Wales Legacy Fund and 28 clubs were successful. In total the Legacy Fund , financed by the Welsh Assembly Government , has helped to build over 200 new holes and 32 new chipping and putting greens making golf accessible to all by providing new and improved high quality facilities across Wales for more than 100 , 000 people introduced to the game by Golf Development Wales during the last seven years.

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