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Welsh Free Golf Week returns
March 29, 2011

Welsh Free Golf Week is back, giving people around Wales the chance to 'Re-live the Ryder Cup', after the success last year when hundreds of golfers joined clubs as a result of the initiative.

The excitement of the 2010 Ryder Cup being held in Wales is still a fresh memory, so the aim is to build on that interest through offering free rounds at many clubs in Wales and free lessons from golf pros around the country to show nomadic golfers and beginners the benefits of club membership during the middle of April.

Last year more than 100 clubs in Wales took part in one of the most successful initiatives ever run by Golf Development Wales and described as one of the best schemes in Europe by former president of the European Golf Association Andy Morgan.

It is back, thanks to funding from golf's governing body the R and A, looking to build on the interest generated when Colin Montgomerie's team won back the Ryder Cup in such thrilling fashion at Celtic Manor.

Following on from the Masters, April 18-24 is the time when most Welsh clubs will be offering free tee times and membership special offers to encourage nomadic golfers to try out club facilities with a view to joining - along with free lessons and coaching for beginners and families.

Beginners can take part in one of the GDW's Beginner's Start Golfing Schemes. Many clubs in Wales are offering free taster sessions, free or low cost lessons and additional continuation lessons and trial membership offers. Details on www.golfdevelopmentwales.org/beginner_schemes/

Apart from opening their doors for free golf and lessons, many clubs around Wales will offer special membership deals in that week.

"Our campaign last year, Pick It Up for the Ryder Cup, was a great success - we hope it will go even better this year as we learn the lessons from the first one and give people the chance to Re-Live the Ryder Cup," said Hannah Fitzpatrick, Golf Union of Wales director of development.

"The week after the Masters is traditionally seen as the first week of the new golf season, so it is the perfect time to encourage the thousands of nomadic golfers in Wales to get back out and give golf a go, along with all those people who would like to take up such a great sport for life."

The impact of the Ryder Cup was huge in Welsh golf. For instance Cardiff golf centre managing director Phil Bowes could put numbers on the Ryder Cup effect - golfers coming onto his range up 25 per cent and lessons up 40 per cent from the previous year.

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

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

In last year's event there were hundreds of children taking part in special festivals all round Wales, while clubs threw open their doors for people to come along to give golf a go.

The scheme was heavily praised by clubs throughout Wales, for example Maesteg who picked up 12 new members in the week and also increased their junior ranks.

"It was fantastic to be honest," explained club pro Tom Davies. "We did not have loads and loads of people turning up to play golf but the majority of the people who did took, up our membership offer so it went down really well."

There were 30 ladies at a taster day at South Pembs in Pembrokeshire - with 100 per cent signing up for follow on lessons.

Abergele also had new members joining while Mold held a successful day with their junior members encouraged to bring along a friend to TriGolf sessions.

There were 18 people who had starter lessons at Welshpool and all of them took up a trial membership. There were also Dragon sport events, for instance there were 120 at Newtown, 90 at Welshpool and Caersws.

The impact was felt throughout Welsh golf, but the aim is to make it bigger and better this year.

If you are not a club member but may like to be, or a beginner who would like to have a try at golf, go to www.golfdevelopmentwales.org/golf-awareness-week-2011/ for more information on participating clubs.








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