If youre a golfer, undoubtedly youve heard of each. Every golfer, around the world, has the dream of one day going there and playing golf on the soil where golf was first played.
This week in Wales, the European Tour comes calling at the Celtic Manor Wales Open. Celtic Manor is one of Wales newer beauties, but it is by no means the only top Welsh layout. This year, three made Golf Digests top 100 international course list ' Royal Porthcawl, Royal St. Davids and Aberdovey. Royal Porthcawl was rated 15th on the list and the ninth best course in Britain ' higher, incidentally, than any course in England.
Wales, in European terms, has not been that well established as a golf destination, agrees Roger Pride, director of marketing for the Wales Tourist Board.
People know a lot about Scotland, England, Ireland. I guess here in Wales, we never realized what a great golf background we have.
Wales has a superb combination of the new ' American Robert Trent Jones, Jr., designed Celtic Manor ' and the old.
Weve got some tremendous traditional links courses, said Pride. Weve developed the whole idea of golf as it should be as a way of trying to capitalize golf in Wales. What we are trying to do is develop the idea of golf as a very relaxed atmosphere, where there is a genuine welcome, played in a great natural environment.
The terrain and soil in Wales is the same as in the remainder of the British Isles. The grasses are the same. But perhaps something has been missing which would call attention to them ' a massive clubhouse, perhaps. But then again, a huge clubhouse would detract from the idyllic charm of the out-of-the-way places.
We have some very old and established links courses, which again have not been as well recognized as some other countries ... places like Royal St. Davids, Royal Porthcawl - they could all compare with any links product anywhere, said Pride. And there are courses such as Nefyn, Conwy, Pennard, Southerndown, Tenby, Pyle and Kenfig, just waiting to burst onto the top 100 list. All these courses need is the infrastructure around it.
But golf in Wales is due to get a huge boost in the coming years. The Ryder Cup will be played there, at Celtic Manor Resort and now the reticent Welshmen will have to start touting all their golf venues ' Europeans, Americans and Canadians are bound to start flooding the countryside.
Its not all about the Cup, though, said Rob Holt of Ryder Cup Wales 2010. Its about everything the event raises.
Many Americans have not heard on Wales at all. It gives us an opportunity to tell a little about us. Were trying very hard to make ourselves better known ' Lets give everybody who comes across a great experience, give them the most spectator-friendly event theres ever been.
All our courses are very friendly, very welcoming. The prices are incredibly good. Most are only about $35. A woman from America came up to me and said, That must cost $200. I said, No, 35.
She said, Total? I said, Total.
Thats the type of thing you run into all the time.
Wales is only 1 hours by auto west of London, and Cardiff on the south coast has a major airport if thats too long a drive. For those who plan to attend the 2006 Ryder Cup in Ireland, Dublin to Cardiff is just a 30-minute plane ride and only costs the equivalent of approximately $71. Hidden in the country are numerous little treasures, all slumbering while waiting to be discovered.
And it took winning the Ryder Cup to actually create a catalyst, which has created a tremendous movement in Wales, said Holt. We now have a stated intent to be one of the worlds top golf destinations by the time the Ryder Cup comes in 2010.
The Ryder Cup is going to provide the platform.
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