Aerial view of The Twenty Ten Course at The Celtic Manor Resort.
Watch out, world - Wales is on the march
Wales may not be the first name on the lips of golfing tourists when they reach the shores of the UK and Ireland, but the wind of change is blowing through the world of Welsh golf thanks to an initiative which can be traced directly to the country's successful bid to host The 2010 Ryder Cup.
In much the same way as Ireland benefited enormously from the razzamatazz surrounding The K Club's impressive staging of The Ryder Cup in 2006, Wales is poised to become the latest destination to reap considerable benefits from The Ryder Cup.
And when the bug bites, it promises to be highly contagious. Even though The Ryder Cup at The Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, is 18 months in the future, the moves to reposition Wales as a lead player in the golfing tourism stakes rather than in a bit part role are going ahead at breakneck pace.
A £2 million Legacy Fund provided by the Welsh Assembly Government, administered by the Sports Council for Wales, is currently supporting over 40 projects which will create over 200 new holes across Wales.
Those golf holes dovetail perfectly with the best that Wales can offer in terms of spectacular scenery, charming villages, glorious views and a diversity of courses providing outstanding visitor appeal.
John Jermine, Chairman of Ryder Cup Wales, explained the rationale behind his organisation's desire to bring Wales into line alongside England, Ireland and Scotland as 'must see' locations on the golfing gazetteer.
Jermine said: "We want tourists to visit our shores, to see first-hand a wonderfully diverse, interesting and charming country which also possesses wonderful golf courses. The Americans and Japanese have been raised on a diet of the great courses in Scotland and England before heading to Ireland. Our aim is to convince those visitors to include Wales on their itineraries and it’s starting to happen.
"Between 2002 and 2008 there has been a significant increase in the number of people who stayed overnight in connection with playing golf, from 58,000 to 78,000 and, importantly, we believe we are on course to reach our target figure of 100,000.
"There will be a spin off in terms of the economic benefit to Wales. Golfing tourism was worth about £16 million to us a few years ago and the figure is currently £29.4 million and rising. If we can increase the profile of golf in Wales then I think we can add several more million to the economy.
"Certainly The Ryder Cup will have a massive impact on these figures. The Celtic Manor Resort will be seen the world over during that week in late September, early October 2010. Naturally, people will want to play The Twenty Ten Course and walk in the footsteps of the world’s greatest players, but that is only the beginning of the story.
"By driving about 40 miles from The Celtic Manor Resort visitors to Wales can play Pyle and Kenfig, Royal Porthcawl and Southerndown. Just head down the road a bit further and you can play a lovely course like Pennard.
"The country has an abundance of great and varied golf courses. You can reel them off – Conwy, Aberdovey,
Tenby, Llanymynech, Royal St David's in Harlech, Machynys Peninsula, Holyhead and Bull Bay on Anglesey, the most northerly course in Wales."
After years of waiting in the wings, Wales may just be on the cusp of taking centre stage as one the golfing destination of the future. Watch this space!