The European Challenge Tour will make its first visit to Wales this week for the Ryder Cup Wales Challenge at De Vere Northop Country Park Golf Club.
The tournament – the penultimate competition before the Challenge Tour Grand Final – will form an integral part of the Schedule for the next eight seasons as it moves around the Principality each year building up towards 2010 when The Ryder Cup Matches will be played at The Celtic Manor Resort.
Since the inception of the European Challenge Tour in 1988, many players have passed through the ranks and moved on to achieve notable success in golf. None more so than former Challenge Tour Ryder Cup players, Thomas Björn, Andrew Coltart, Niclas Fasth, Pierre Fulke, Ignacio Garrido, Per-Ulrik Johansson, Costantino Rocca and Jarmo Sandelin.
The Ryder Cup Wales Challenge will be the beginning of a new dawn for young aspiring professional golfers in Wales.
From this week onwards, the Challenge Tour – with the help of Ryder Cup Wales – will look to see the new young breed of professional golfers competing, and hoping to emulate the achievements of previous Welsh Challenge Tour graduates Jamie Donaldson, Bradley Dredge and David Park.
Of all the current Welsh golfers plying their trade on the Challenge Tour, Garry Houston is the man most likely to feel at home at the De Vere Northop Country Park venue as he was brought up in the vicinity of the golf course.
“It’s a mile from my parents house so you could say I’m the local boy – in fact, you can’t get more local!” said Houston.
“It’s a nice part of the country though, and the course itself is a good parkland venue that will be in good condition. I think the scoring will be quite low at Northop, but you never know with the weather – it can be hard going if the weather gets ugly.”
He continued: “Golf is really doing well in Wales just now. I think the injection of The Ryder Cup has really caught people’s attention and raised the profile of golf in Wales, which has, in turn, raised people’s interest in the game.
“Plus there are so many Welsh players doing well now that golf is as strong as it has been in the country for a long time.”