Eleven-month-old Holly Jones looks forward to her first Ryder Cup surrounded by officials involved in staging The 2010 Ryder Cup.
On October 1 - on the 1st tee - it will be a first for Wales
Holly Jones is a girl with a lot to look forward to as she approaches her first birthday later this month. Meanwhile, her father, Gareth Rees Jones, Marketing Director at The Celtic Manor Resort, joins many others in Wales, considering another first and reflecting where we'll all be exactly a year from now - on 1st October 2010 - when The Ryder Cup is played in Wales for the very first time.
Father and daughter were joined on the first tee - where else? - of the purpose-built Twenty Ten Course by many more of the key participants in The 2010 Ryder Cup to celebrate the countdown to next year's event.
For Holly, obviously, next year will be her first Ryder Cup, although she's hardly in a position to appreciate the importance of the occasion! For everyone else in Wales, however, the magnitude of welcoming the world's biggest team golf event to our shores is well understood and it will be a first for all of us: From the residents of host city, Newport, to the green keepers at The Celtic Manor Resort, from the hoteliers across Wales who are preparing to provide a warm Welsh welcome for the tens of thousands of visitors attending the tournament, to the volunteers, guides and marshals who will help out on and around the course, October 2010 will be a monumental milestone and will put Wales very firmly in the global spotlight.
It will be the first time Wales has hosted an event of with this level of global profile and the excitement is mounting.
Celtic Manor's Director of Golf Courses, Jim McKenzie, said: "I've had the privilege of working on some large European Tour events here at Celtic Manor and at Wentworth Club but The Ryder Cup is going to be the highlight of my professional career.
"I've been to all of the Ryder Cups over the last decade or so and had a good look behind the scenes as a fact-finding exercise at the last few, but this will be very much a first for me in terms of preparing a golf course for a tournament of this stature.
"It's only once every four years that a venue on this side of the Atlantic gets to host The Ryder Cup so it’s a rare privilege and an honour. The eyes of the world will be upon us and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a little bit nervous about the whole thing, but I’d be in the wrong job if I wasn’t looking forward to the challenge.
"Next year is the culmination of a lot of hard work put in by a lot of people over the 16 years I've been working at The Celtic Manor Resort. And, of course, the drive and determination of our owner, Sir Terry Matthews, whose vision made the whole thing possible in the first place."
While McKenzie is still working with Colin Montgomerie on the course set-up and some minor tweaks the European Captain has recommended for the tournament, The Celtic Manor Resort puts the last major piece of construction into place this autumn with the completion of a £2m bridge over the River Usk to transport players and spectators to the new Ryder Cup practice ground.
Remarking on the importance to Wales of this event, Andrew Davies AM, Minister for Finance and Public Service Delivery, said: "The Ryder Cup is one of the world's largest sporting events, and hosting it will give Wales a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to promote itself on the word stage. As well as the economic activity surrounding the event itself, it will raise Wales' profile globally and help attract investment in the future.
Elaborating on the notion of "Our First Ryder Cup" Mr Davies explained: "The extent to which this is an important first for Wales cannot be overstated. We are to be host nation for one of the world’s most exciting sporting occasions and association with the event gives us the opportunity to develop some new marketing material that will help us raise the profile of Wales – both as a place to do business and as a place to visit.
"Through our marketing and brand activity, we need to use the opportunity to enhance Wales' external reputation and to build a sense of occasion within Wales. "Our First Ryder Cup" is one way of showing how the event will touch lots of people throughout Wales and will help to build a sense of anticipation. The personal stories we develop will form part of website content and wider communication over the coming months."
The nation won the right to host the event back in 2001 and since then both the private and public sector have been working to ensure that the whole of Wales benefits from hosting one of the largest sporting events in the world. The arrival in Wales of The 2010 Ryder Cup in a year's time represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put Wales on the map.
Anticipating the next 12 months, Chairman of Ryder Cup Wales 2010 Ltd. John Jermine said: "Since winning the bid Wales has become a recognised international golfing destination and these next 12 months will help us build our reputation for great golf and hospitality attracting new visitors to Wales for years to come. We look forward to showing all of our guests "Golf as it Should be" that will guarantee them golfing memories to be treasured."
Explaining the on-going work to stage the event, Ryder Cup Director, Richard Hills, said: "We continue to be extremely impressed by the huge commitment being made by everyone at The Celtic Manor Resort. Sir Terry’s vision gave birth to a dream and seeing that dream move towards reality is a joy for all involved. There is only one year to go now and we know that all of Wales will have good reason to feel very proud when The 2010 Ryder Cup begins on October 1 next year."
Councillor Matthew Evans, Leader of Newport City Council, added: "The next 12 months promise to be among the most memorable in Newport's modern history and a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise our profile on a global stage and get people feeling good about the city.
"Hosting an event on the scale of the Ryder Cup is something many people thought could never happen in a town or city like Newport. The fact that we are now just a year away from hosting one of the world's most prestigious sporting events is something that should give everyone connected with Newport, a huge amount of pride in our city."