Golf clubs in Wales already feeling Ryder Cup effect

Published
Image caption, A rainbow dominates the landscape at October's Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor in Newport

Golf clubs across Wales are already enjoying the benefits of the 2010 Ryder Cup, a snapshot of clubs suggests.

Clubs in the Vale of Glamorgan, Nefyn, Royal St David's and Aberdovey have reported increased visitor numbers since the tournament was held at the Celtic Manor, Newport, last month.

Holiday operator Golf on Gower says bookings are up 20% on last year, despite the recession.

Ryder Cup Wales said the full effect will not be known until next year.

The Vale Resort in Hensol, near Pontyclun, has recorded a 50% leap in group bookings in year-on-year sales.

A large portion of those are said to be repeat bookings from golfers who played for the first time in 2010.

The resort's director of sales and marketing, Paul Beddoe, told BBC Wales that group bookings placed in 2009 for 2010 were valued at just over £30,000, while in 2010 for the first 10 days of October alone, the same bookings have already exceeded more than £50,000.

He said: "It is a little early to say that this increase in demand is entirely down to the Ryder Cup, but without doubt it must have a major bearing.

"What is particularly pleasing is the number of inquiries and business placed from specialist golf tour operators from the Midlands and London which, hopefully, signifies an increasing demand for golfers perhaps coming to Wales for the first time."

Aberdovey Golf Club and Royal St David's in Gwynedd both saw a 20% increase in green fees and international visitors in the build-up to the event in October.

Positive impact

Image caption, The impact of the Ryder Cup is being felt in clubs across Wales

St David's secretary Trefor Davies said he had been surprised to attract so much interest when the club was a four-hour drive from the Celtic Manor.

He said the boost was down to the work of Ryder Cup Wales, the body set up to maximise the positive impact of October's event.

And Simon Dennis, secretary at Nefyn Golf Club near Pwllheli, said fans flocked to the course straight from the cup at the Celtic Manor, with their Ryder Cup branded gear still on their backs.

"September was a great month for the club and was the highest grossing for green fees in the club's history.

"Looking at the geographical locations people were travelling from, the Ryder Cup was definitely a factor.

"October also out-performed October 2009 and that was definitely due to the Ryder Cup effect."

He added that the take-up for taster sessions introducing new golfers to the sport was also up with more interested parties contacting the club direct.

Ian Richardson, chair of the golf holiday company Golf on Gower, said take-up for golfing trips was surprisingly high in the tough economic climate.

He said: "We would generally expect leisure activity to go down because it's seen as luxury spending rather than necessary spending but we are actually up 20% on last year.

"I think hosting the Ryder Cup has given Wales much more prominence as a golf destination.

"We are already taking bookings up until October 2011 and have lots of enquiries about summer 2012."

Legacy

The Welsh Assembly Government via Golf Development Wales has been running a concerted campaign to build the legacy of the event by attracting new beginners to the sport.

Across Wales it has invested £2m in facilities for people to learn golf, with various participating clubs hosting free taster sessions.

Rob Holt, chief executive of Ryder Cup Wales, said: "We always said it wasn't just about the Ryder Cup and it was about before, during and after.

"The before was about raising Wales up as top tourist destination, which I think we've done to great effect since our inception in 2001 and those benefits are being seen up in north and west Wales and at clubs throughout the country.

"The event was the icing on the cake and clubs have reported an immediate effect to us but we can't rest on our laurels and we need to continue to promote Wales as a golf location."

He said more was being done to attract new people to club membership but the official figures for golf tourism were not likely to be revealed until early 2011.

More on this story

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.