A new look Royal Porthcawl will await the stars of the European Senior Tour when the south Wales venue hosts the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open from June 14-16.
The course is being modified ahead of hosting the tournament for the first time since John Bland’s victory in 2010, with the changes also mindful of Royal Porthcawl staging The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex for the first time in 2014.
At 7,071 yards, it is expected to be the longest course on the Senior Tour in 2013 aside from Royal Birkdale which hosts this year’s Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex.
The course layout is being re-routed for the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open so that players will start from the normal 18th hole and finish on the 17th. This is aimed at enhancing the spectator experience as a tented village can be sited near to the new tournament first tee and 18th green, while it will provide more room for an 18th green grandstand and leaderboard, as well as Sponsors’ Hospitality area and viewing pavilion.
Significant changes have also been made to several holes, with new tees on the tournament holes six, seven, 11, 12 and 13.
The greens at the fifth, sixth, tenth, 11th and 13th holes of the tournament layout have also been re-contoured, with the new 504 yard par five finishing hole set up to provide an exciting climax to both the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open and next year’s Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex, which takes place from July 24-27, 2014.
Michael Petch, Tournament Director of the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open, said: “The existing 18 holes were originally laid out in 1909 and reshaping the greens came about as a result of modern machinery more than doubling the speed of the greens compared to when they were originally designed.
“We feel that the new course format will also provide the best spectator experience, while also providing a challenging and exciting layout for our players. All of these changes have been made with next year’s Senior Open Championship in mind, when Royal Porthcawl will host the prestigious event for the first time.
“We are all looking forward to June’s Speedy Services Wales Senior Open to see exactly how these modifications play, and how our leading players tackle the new look course at Royal Porthcawl.”
It will be the third time Royal Porthcawl has hosted the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open, after 2009 when South African Bertus Smit triumphed and in 2010 when his compatriot Bland claimed the title.
Former Ryder Cup player Barry Lane will be the defending champion after holding off the challenge of countryman Philip Golding last year at Conwy (Caernarvonshire) Golf Club.
Cllr Mel Nott OBE, Leader of Bridgend County Borough Council, said: “I’m thrilled to be welcoming the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open back to Royal Porthcawl this summer. This is another fantastic opportunity to showcase Porthcawl as a world class golfing destination.
“It will also mark the start of an exciting year for the area’s golfing profile with the Senior Open Championship to look forward to in July 2014. We can guarantee first class facilities, amid spectacular scenery, matched by the warmest of welcomes. In turn we expect our local economy to positively benefit from the ‘putting pound’.
“Porthcawl is already a famous tourist destination and we are proud to be leading its physical, cultural and sporting regeneration in which golf plays such a significant role.”
Michael Newland, Secretary of Royal Porthcawl Golf Club, said: “The club is delighted to be hosting the Wales Senior Open for a third time. Royal Porthcawl Golf Club has a rich tournament history, hosting the first Penfold tournament in 1932, the Coral Classic, the Walker Cup and The Amateur Championship on six occasions. Players and spectators alike have enjoyed the course, and with the changes that have taken place we hope this will enhance their experience.”