With just a month until The 2012 Ryder Cup most of the focus in the golfing world is on Chicago, but in Wales the legacy of the previous contest continues to flourish.
The dramatic finale to The 38th Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport two years ago, when Graeme McDowell secured the winning point for Europe, did not mark the end of The Ryder Cup’s reach in Wales.
Instead the country continues to benefit from hosting golf’s premier team competition, as highlighted by this week’s Speedy Services Wales Senior Open, which represents a new chapter in Welsh golf.
The event at Conwy (Caernarvonshire) Golf Club forms part of the Welsh Government’s support programme for golf, which now also includes The 2014 Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at Royal Porthcawl, the first Major Championship to be held in the country.
It has also guaranteed that The Senior Open Championship will return to Royal Porthcawl on two further occasions before 2024, ensure the country continues to showcase its top class golfing facilities through world class events.
Rob Holt OBE, the former Chief Executive of Ryder Cup Wales and the current Chairman of Golf Development Wales, is now the Director of Marketing for Visit Wales, helping to build on the exposure Wales gained through hosting The 2010 Ryder Cup.
“The Ryder Cup has given Wales so much,” he said. “We now have 38 additional golf facilities as a result of it, and we have seen golf tourism grow to around 200,000 visitors a year bringing in about £40million to the Welsh economy. The Speedy Services Wales Senior Open is another part of that legacy, and it is great to have it back on the European Senior Tour, showcasing Conwy as another of our top golf courses.
“Another part of the legacy is the hosting of Wales’ first Major Championship, The 2014 Senior Open at Royal Porthcawl.
“That will be another fantastic event and will help further Wales’ reputation as a leading golf and event destination, in line with the Welsh Government’s aspirations.”
Inspiring a new generation has also been an important part of The Ryder Cup legacy, and has become an integral part of the Wales Senior Open.
In keeping with a tradition at the event, a junior Pro-Am took place on Wednesday alongside the Pro-Am, giving promising youngsters the chance to play alongside Senior Tour players, while two clinics were also held where the players passed on some of their expertise.
Dilwyn Griffiths, Development Officer for Golf Development Wales, said: “The Junior Pro-Am and clinics are always an unforgettable experience for the kids. Since the very first Wales Senior Open was held we have had local kids invited to take part in clinics and we have some great names, including Tony Jacklin and Brian Huggett, teaching them.
“Some of the kids who came to our first clinics as nine or ten year olds have gone on to make the Welsh national set-up, including Rhys Pugh who recently won the European Amateur Championship. He took part in one of our early clinics.
“It’s been really good of the Senior Tour to allow us to get these kids of all standards involved. IT’s a wonderful opportunity for them to play with the stars on the Senior Tour and it sticks with them forever.”