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Caernarfon facelift thanks to Ryder Cup
February 23, 2011

A year after celebrating its centenary, one of the most traditional golf clubs in North Wales has had a facelift thanks to a £40,000 Legacy Fund grant from Ryder Cup Wales.

The new-look facilities, opened by Minister for Heritage, Alun Ffred Jones, includes an upgrade to the practice facilities and a covered driving range that has been appreciated by members and guests alike at Caernarfon Golf Club, with visitor numbers going up at the course since the improvements.

"It is definitely making an impact with quite a few extra visitors coming along," said club chairman Meirion Evans.

"The pro is using it to teach and develop our junior section, so it is already proving a big benefit to the club."

Caernarfon is one of Wales top championship courses, with stunning views over the Menai Straits, on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park . The nearest club is 12 miles away in Bangor , so it is vital to improve the range of facilities in such a large area with a substantial catchment of potential golfers.

The club has forged a link with another Ryder Cup Wales funded facility, the pitch and putt course at nearby Parc Coed Helen, to provide a smooth pathway for golfers in the area from beginner level through to championship course members.

The practice facilities are unrecognisable from what was in place before. There is a driving range with covered bays and three target greens, as opposed to an area between two holes which was there before.

A chipping area has been put in with bunkers and artificial turf chipping stations, while the new putting green is also much bigger than the previous putting area.

"Before our members used to just have a few swings of the club and then go out and play, but now they have the chance to hit a few balls on the range and also practice their short game," added Evans.

"It is nice to see most of them using the new facilities, while the juniors are on them every day.

"We are working with Golf Development Wales to market our club as well and this is a great addition to members and visitors alike. We are including hitting balls on the range as part of the visitor packages and that is proving popular.

"We rely on visitors coming to the club, so this has been really positive. This has been a boost for the club and the area, we have been waiting a long time for something like this so we are very, very pleased.

"One or two of the members were not very sure about it before, but now it is all in place everyone agrees it is 100 per cent better than before and well worth the effort.

"Coed Helen is a par three course half a mile away from us and kids from the age of five and six are going there, so hopefully now we have something which can bring them from there to our club to move smoothly onto the next level.

"We also have links with the local schools so we can bring kids along to the course during term time, all linked up by Dilwyn Griffiths of Golf Development Wales .

"We would never have been able to do this without the grant, so it is having a big impact and all thanks to the legacy of the Ryder Cup being held in Wales ."

Opening the improved facility Minister for Heritage, Alun Ffred Jones, said: "The Ryder Cup was 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 support from the Legacy Fund has been used to develop this great golf course and that they are already benefiting with more visitors coming to use the new facilities. I'm sure that many more young and aspiring golfers will also benefit from this development."

Ryder Cup Wales chairman John Jermine is particularly pleased to see two Legacy Fund facilities working together in the Caernarfon area.

"Coed Helen was our first project and has been a tremendous success with four primary schools, the Urdd and Caernarfon all using it to introduce golf to hundreds of players new to the game," said Jermine.

"Now Caernarfon has built these new practice facilities there is a natural progression for anyone wanting to play more regularly and, hopefully, play golf for a lifetime of pleasure.

"One of the most important objectives of winning the bid to host the Ryder Cup in Wales was to make golf accessible to all and to leave a tangible benefit of more and better golfing facilities throughout Wales . Caernarfon Golf Club is leading the way to attract new players, especially youngsters and women, and this latest initiative will help secure a successful future for one of our oldest clubs. We are thrilled to see such enthusiasm for golf in this most beautiful part of Wales and that we were able to help the club with such a wonderful project."

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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