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Ryder Cup boost to Welsh golfing facilities
August 16, 2010

One of the iconic golf courses helping to sell Wales around the world in the build up to The Ryder Cup has got new practice facilities - thanks to Ryder Cup Wales.

Ryder Cup venue Celtic Manor in the South East and Nefyn on the North West coast could hardly be further apart within Wales, but the spectacular aerial pictures of the holes jutting out to sea on The Point - in the Llyn Peninsula have become some of the most successful images in boosting golf tourism.

Now the course at Nefyn and District has itself been boosted with a new driving range and short game area, though one of the main targets is to use the new facilities to encourage more people living in the area to take up the game.

There is a new covered driving range, while the short game practice area can also be turned into a five hole starter course to encourage learners, thanks to a grant of £73,414 from the Ryder Cup Wales Legacy Fund.

Minister for Heritage, Alun Ffred Jones, said: "The Ryder Cup is not just a three day event in Newport , but a unique opportunity to further raise the international profile of Wales and deliver economic, tourism, sporting and social benefits throughout the country.

"It is therefore extremely pleasing to know that assistance from the Legacy Fund has been used to support the grass roots game in Nefyn and I'm hoping that many more young and aspiring golfers will benefit from the new facilities at this prestigious venue."

Nefyn is one of the must-play 'trophy' courses in Wales and it has the remarkable statistic that 60 per cent of its members live in England , showing the pulling power of the course.

The new facilities will be open to all visitors and will provide an extra incentive to play there, but the main aim is to use them to encourage people in the local communities to take up golf.

"We are very fortunate the Ryder Cup Wales Legacy Fund is there to facilitate the development of this facility, now all we need to do is to get non-golfers into golf through a structured starter programme," said Nefyn secretary Simon Dennis.

"With these facilities we can take people from first principles through to a pitch and putt so that in the fullness of time they are ready to go on to become members of the club.

"There were people in favour of the idea, those who were ambivalent and those who opposed it - but I have to say the uptake is very promising, with some members who opposed the project being among the most regular users. It will make a big difference to us here."

There are 26 holes at Nefyn but the eight holes on the Old Course, The Point, are the most scenic and offer golfers a unique opportunity to stop off for refreshments in a seaside pub on the way round. The Point at Nefyn has provided one of the main images of Welsh golf in all the efforts to boost tourism.

Ryder Cup Wales Chief Executive, Rob Holt, is one of the people who has seen the benefit of using Nefyn to sell Welsh golf around the world.

"We use a blown up version of that stunning picture of Nefyn as the backdrop of our sales points when we go to events and conferences round Europe and North America - and it always gets a great response," said Holt.

"People want to know where that course is and whether they can play it. We know from holding our Challenge Tour event here what a great experience it is to play at Nefyn and hopefully we have persuaded a few people to come over and share that experience.

"It was always important we used the attention of The Ryder Cup to encourage people to come to every part of Wales and enjoy all our wonderful courses.

"It is important that everything on offer at a club like Nefyn is in line with the public image of a top course and so it is great that Ryder Cup Wales have been able to help the club develop their facilities.

"However it is more than that, because these facilities should help to boost golf locally in North West Wales by encouraging more people who live there into the game to enjoy the spectacular surroundings where they live.

"It has been really good to use Nefyn to boost the image of Welsh golf around the world, but it is just as good to help with facilities that will boost golf in Nefyn itself."

Dennis admits the club has gained from being the focal point of so much publicity.

"The results have been more than we could have hoped for in some ways," admitted Dennis. "We have seen a terrific increase in the footfall and visitors from North America and Europe, even from Japan , and that is the result of the imagery of the course being publicised at events outside Wales .

"That can only be positive, but in a way we cannot judge the short term impact because this is the beginning of what the Legacy Fund is aiming to achieve and the results will really be seen over three to five years."

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 the 75,000 youngsters introduced to the game by Golf Development Wales during the last seven years.

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