Golfers at a village club where Sion E Bebb learned the game will be able to practice and learn indoors thanks to the impact of The Ryder Cup coming to Wales in October.
Llantrisant and Pontyclun golf club have new indoor practice nets, teaching facilities and putting area, which were officially unveiled by European Tour Member Bebb, who learned to play as a junior member at the club before travelling the world in the professional ranks.
The club aim to produce more top players like Bebb in the future because of the new facilities and a drive to encourage children, women and men to take up the game at the Talbot Green course, thanks to a grant from Ryder Cup Wales showing the impact the event is having on Welsh golf at all levels.
For the first month after the official opening on March 19, there will be free lessons for ladies on a Tuesday and juniors and men on a Saturday, using the new state-of-the-art facilities.
“We’re a small club at the foot of the valleys and like many other clubs in Wales we are trying to attract members and strengthen our role at the heart of our community,” explained project co-ordinator and former club captain Richard Randall.
“We have reaped a huge reward from The Ryder Cup coming to Wales and this will make a vast difference.
“It’s amazing to think that our members can benefit from these fabulous new facilities at such a grass roots level, all thanks to The Ryder Cup coming to Wales later this year.
“We were told about the Ryder Cup Wales Legacy Fund and, after coming up with detailed plans, we were delighted to get almost £30,000 towards the costs, and we were able to raise the rest of the money within the club.
“These facilities will give us an edge in the area and will help us to attract many more players to golf. They can learn and practice in privacy indoors with our pro Andrew Bowen.”
After opening the new facilities Bebb, a former Challenge Tour champion now plying his trade on The European Tour, expressed the wish that they had been available when he joined as a junior.
He said: “I first joined when I was around 12, our back garden ran alongside the golf course so it was easy for me to nip over the fence to play there.
“I spent some very enjoyable summers there, but I wish facilities like these for practice had been available to me then.
“It will be great in the winters when people tend to stay indoors. I still live in the area so I know this will make a big difference to the club and the community – hopefully it will encourage a lot more people to give golf a try.”
John Jermine, Chairman of Ryder Cup Wales, said: “Llantrisant and Pontyclun have produced many fine golfers over the years, and these new facilities will not only help attract new players to the club but also enable them to have lessons throughout the year.”
Llantrisant and Pontyclun is a Golf Foundation Junior Starter Centre, having started as a nine-hole course in 1927. It expanded to 12 holes in 1969 and then to 18 holes in 2000.
They involve five primary schools in the area in golf taster sessions through Dragon Sport, as well as forging strong links with four comprehensive schools in the area through the 5x60 programme.
These new facilities will allow them to increase the number of women playing golf, provide structured coaching all year round, fun competitions for children, increase participation opportunities and develop more coaches.
“The indoor putting area can have the speed of the greens adjusted through the sand system in place, while the practice nets have full video facilities and an engraved mirror which was donated by the senior men,” explained Randall.
“It means people can take lessons in private, so when they venture onto the course they will know what they are doing.
“We will also be holding a junior leaders workshop with the aim of producing 10-15 people to look after the juniors throughout the county.
“By having free coaching for the first month it will allow our membership to experience what we have put in place.”
All clubs and golf facilities in Wales have been encouraged to apply for grants from the Ryder Cup Wales Legacy Fund. The funding has already made a significant impact on changing the landscape of Welsh golf with improved facilities for development and play.