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Ryder Cup helps Tenby get up to date
August 2, 2010

One of the favourite golf courses of former Welsh Ryder Cup winning captain, Dai Rees, has built new modern academy facilities - thanks to The Ryder Cup coming to Wales this year.

Tenby is the oldest golf club in Wales and one of the player's favourites, hosting the Welsh Amateur Championship (July 28-31) and the Ladies British Strokeplay Championship this summer, while being included in Today's Golfer magazine's top 10 value courses in the country and Golf World's top 100 courses.

Now the practice and learning facilities have been brought up-to-date to match the quality and history of the links course, with a new three hole starter area added, thanks to an £80,000 grant from the Ryder Cup Wales Legacy Fund.

The Tenby club has strong links with The Ryder Cup and the third hole is named after Dai Rees, the winning, playing captain at Lindrick in 1957, the only victory for Great Britain and Ireland since 1933 - with the next American defeat coming when a European team won at The Belfry in 1985.

The club has also put a huge amount of effort into finding stars of the future with well over 200 hundred boys, girls, men and women going through the starter schemes being run by club pro Rhys Harry, the current Golf Union of Wales club professional of the year.

The new facilities will help develop that process, with a proper 300 yard driving range, improved short game practice area and three new short holes, in an eight acre site which needed to be reclaimed from wild sea buckthorn weeds.

"We had an area of wild buckthorn which the Countryside Commission wanted us to clear and also we needed these new facilities - for instance our previous driving range was the old first hole, so it was very narrow with a dogleg," explained Tenby Secretary, David Hancock.

"We could never have afforded to do it ourselves so when the Ryder Cup Wales Legacy Fund grants became available we thought it was the ideal way of killing two birds with one stone.

"Now we have a wide driving area, improved chipping and bunker area as well as the three holes, all of which can help people starting the game and also help anyone work on their technique."

Tenby was the first club in Wales to be affiliated to the Golf Union of Wales and was officially founded in 1888, though there are records of golf being played there in 1875.

The club has done a great job of taking golf to the people in the area, while upgraded accommodation on the course has also enhanced the tourist potential of one of Wales 's most popular courses for visitors - designed by golf architect James Braid who also did Gleneagles and Carnoustie.

"James Braid made three visits here and most of the course is pretty much the way he left it after his third visit, so it was great to have the opportunity to upgrade the facilities around the course," explained Hancock.

"We have held several Welsh Amateur Championships with another one this week, then next month is the British Ladies Strokeplay and it is always nice to host a British event here.

"So the course has the quality and the history, but we are also conscious of developing the game and we are keen to make it a relaxed place for members, visitors and starters alike.

"The new academy facilities show that you do not have to be an experienced golfer to come down.

"Thanks to support from Golf Development Wales and the work of our pro Rhys, we have had more than a thousand ladies and juniors getting coaching through the club, as well as more recent schemes for men coming to the end of their rugby or football careers.

"All that started before the academy facilities, so we are hoping for a new surge now we have a proper place for it to carry on."

The new developments were welcomed by Ryder Cup Wales Chairman, John Jermine, who has competed in the Welsh Amateur Championships over the links course.

"It is fantastic to see one of our most historic courses doing so much to improve the sport in their area and it is wonderful that Ryder Cup Wales have been able to help the process," he said.

"Anyone who has played at Tenby will know it is a wonderful course and the new practise facilities make it an even better championship venue.

"Hosting national events such as the Ladies British Stroke Play Championship is a tremendous tribute to the course, while the partnership with Golf Pembrokeshire has been very successful in attracting new players to the game. Hosting The Ryder Cup has enabled us to help clubs throughout Wales and the members of Tenby are to be applauded for supporting this initiative designed to help new players, particularly youngsters and women, many of whom will become the members of the future and enjoy a lifetime of pleasure from this marvellous game."

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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