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Better Betws for golfers
March 3, 2011

It is the first time for a while that a North Wales golf club has had the opportunity to have a junior team club competition, thanks to the upsurge of interest and new facilities made possible by hosting the Ryder Cup in Wales.

Also golfers in Betws-y-Coed should be shouting 'Fore' a little less often now they have built new practice facilities thanks to a grant of around £22,000 from Ryder Cup Wales.

The old putting and practice area was alongside the closing hole on the nine-hole course, making it potentially dangerous and limiting the number of people who could use it.

The new short course and practice facilities are aimed at one purpose above all others, according to greens committee chairman Ken Roberts, "Bringing on more juniors.

"People have heard about the new facilities and are looking to use them. We were able to field a six strong team at Under 15 level this year, while there has also been an increase in the numbers of women and girls playing.

"People who used to play here are coming back and we have had quite a few new members joining in the weeks since these facilities were first being used, which is a good sign for the future."

Having the old putting green and practice area next to the ninth hole meant it was too dangerous to have more than four people using it at any one time.

It has now been moved to a safer place as well as opening a chipping area and practice net. There are new artificial tees creating 9 new short holes with lengths between 75 yards and 250 yards that are built specifically for beginners, especially juniors, women and girls.

The short course will also be useful during the winter when other parts of the course, beside the River Conwy, can be too wet to play. The course, in the Conwy valley and part of the Snowdonia National Park , is close to the popular tourist destination.

"Everything is geared towards encouraging juniors really," explained 64-year-old Roberts, who himself only took up golf two and a half years ago at the course in Betws-y-Coed.

"The par three course has been added into the original course by putting in new tees, while there are also new practice nets and a pitching area, whereas all we had before was the putting green.

"We did have a little practice range, but it was quite dangerous when other people were teeing off - if you did not concentrate then you were liable to be hit.

"It has had a very good reaction with quite a few people using the nets and practice areas all the time, while we also seem to be getting more visitors.

"There were quite a few people in the area who did not know we existed, but there has been more publicity and people are turning up to give it a go.

"We hope they are the new members of the future and so far the signs are very promising with quite a few joining after hearing about the new facilities. The new course is not intimidating for new players."

The club have managed to make the grant go a long way, working with local schools, businesses and the tourist trade to ensure the new facilities are well used.

"It was important that Ryder Cup Wales was able to support golf at every level and the Legacy Fund has tried to help Local Authorities and clubs throughout Wales, especially those seeking to attract players new to the game," explained Ryder Cup Wales chairman John Jermine.

"Betws-y-Coed is an ideal course for people to learn the game and, hopefully, carry on playing for a lifetime of pleasure and it is a great example of the facilities needed by local communities.

"These new facilities have helped the club field a junior team for the first time in a while and that is exactly what the Welsh Assembly Government wanted us to do with our £2m Legacy Fund. The barriers to entry have been removed and golf is much more accessible than ever before.

"It is a really good example of how hosting the Ryder Cup has benefited the whole of Wales . Golf Development Wales has introduced over 100,000 people to golf and Betws-y-Coed is one of forty new and improved facilities that have been funded in 15 Local Authorities and are a superb legacy that will benefit many future generations."

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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