Golf in Wales

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Golf is a popular sport in Wales. Although the sport of golf in Great Britain is most associated with Scotland, where it was established and developed, Wales can record its first courses back to the 1880s, and today has over 200 clubs. The first amateur golf competition was held in 1895 and the first professional championship was in 1904. Wales has produced several players of note, including one player, Ian Woosnam, who has won one of the Men's major golf championships and Wales has twice won the men's World Cup, in 1987 and 2005. Wales also hosted the Ryder Cup, when it was held at Newport's Celtic Manor Resort in 2010.

History[edit]

The sport of golf in Wales traces its origins to the 1880s. The earliest course was constructed in Pontnewydd in Monmouthshire in 1875, but this was a short course. By the mid-1880s nine-hole courses were built at several sites in Wales on coastal common land where the turf was acceptable.[1] Several sites claim to be home to the oldest golf club in Wales, though it is generally accepted that Tenby, formed in 1888, was the first, with evidence that the game was played there from at least 1875.[2] Another early course is found stretching between Borth and Ynyslas being in use from 1885. Other 19th-century courses, again all coastal, include Conwy (1890), Penarth (1890), Porthcawl (1891) and Aberdovey (1892). The opening of the early railway lines and the growing tourism in Wales gave these new courses opportunities to attract visitors. Though, as the golf clubs of Wales were initially created and run by the middle class, the sport suffered from a view as being English and elitist.[1]

From its early days, Wales has embraced both male and female golfers. The Welsh Golfing Union was formed in 1895, the second oldest in the World behind its Irish counterpart;[3] while the Welsh Ladies' Golf Union was founded in 1904. The Golf Union of Wales, which governs the sport in Wales, was founded in 2007 after the merger of the Welsh Ladies Golf Union and the Welsh Golfing Union.[4]

Welsh golfers[edit]

Woosnam in 1989

Dai Rees was one of the first successful Welsh golfers, captaining a winning European Ryder Cup team in 1957. Wales has won the golfing World Cup on two occasions, with the pairing of David Llewellyn and Ian Woosnam lifting the trophy in Hawaii in 1987, and again in 2005, with Stephen Dodd and Bradley Dredge winning in Portugal.

Ian Woosnam is one of Wales' most notable players. Not only winning the 1987 World Cup, he is also the only Welshman to have won a major championship, when he took the 1991 Masters Tournament at Augusta.[5] That year he also reached the number one spot on the Official World Golf Rankings, spending 50 weeks at the top of the rankings, only four golfers have held the title longer. Woosnam then followed countryman Rees' achievement when he led Europe to victory against the USA in the 2006 Ryder Cup.[6]

Wales has supplied several members of the British and European Ryder cup teams. The first was Bert Hodson, who played for Charles Whitcombe's 1931 team. Hodson played in only one round, losing to an in-form Denny Shute.[7] Dai Rees played in three Ryder Cups, and his captaincy in 1957 was the only time the Americans were beaten between 1933 and 1985.[8] Dave Thomas played in four Ryder Cups between 1959 and 1967, losing only one of his five singles matches. Brian Huggett played in six Ryder Cups and in 1977 was the sides non-player captain, the last time a British and Irish-only team contested the tournament.[7] Woosnam played in eight consecutive teams, and in 2002 Phillip Price became the last Welshman to play in the tournament, memorably beating Phil Mickelson in his singles match.[7]

Tournaments in Wales[edit]

The first amateur tournament in Wales was held in 1895 at Aberdovey Golf Club and then in 1901 the club became the first in Wales to host the British Ladies Amateur Golf Championship.[2] The first professional golf championship was in Radyr near Cardiff in 1904. In recent years Wales has held several annual golfing events, notably the Wales Challenge (founded in 2003), Wales Ladies Championship of Europe (1996) and the Wales Seniors Open (2001). Despite the heightened profile of golf in Wales generated by the Ryder Cup in 2010 all three tournaments were scrapped in 2011.[9] The Wales Seniors Open is planned for a return in 2012 at Conwy Golf Course, while it has been announced that the 2014 Senior British Open Championship will be held at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club, the first time the event will be held in Wales.[9] Royal Porthcawl is one of the most notable of Welsh courses and in the past has hosted the 1995 Walker Cup, The Amateur Championship on six occasions and the Wales Ladies Championship.[10]

The Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, South Wales was the venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup; the first time the event was held in Wales. Europe beat the USA by 14½ points to 13½ in one of the most dramatic finishes to the tournament in recent years. The event also made history by becoming the first Ryder Cup to stretch over four days, following heavy rain throughout the weekend.[11]

Courses[edit]

Wales is home to roughly 200 golf courses. The first appeared in the late 19th century, mainly links courses, most notably at Aberdovey, Borth and Ynyslas, Conwy, Penarth, Porthcawl, St David's and Tenby. Cardiff's first club was at Radyr (1902), while other courses in Wales to appear that decade include those at Old Colwyn, Brecon and Porthmadog.[2] Courses continued to appear in Wales throughout the early 20th century, including 14 designed by James Braid.[2] In 1908, St David's Golf Club was granted Royal patronage by King Edward VII, becoming the first Welsh club to be granted the honour.[12] Porthcawl became the second and last club in Wales to receive the title the following year.[12]

Carmarthenshire[edit]

Ceredigion[edit]

Clwyd[edit]

Glamorgan[edit]

Gwynedd[edit]

Isle of Anglesey[edit]


Monmouthshire[edit]

Pembrokeshire[edit]

Powys[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Davies, John; Jenkins, Nigel; Menna, Baines et al., eds. (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 325. ISBN 978-0-7083-1953-6. 
  2. ^ a b c d Jones, Ciaran (15 July 2010). "The history of golf in Wales". walesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 15 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "Golf Courses in Wales". golfeurope.com. Retrieved 15 February 2012. 
  4. ^ "Golf Governing Bodies". Professional Golfers' Association. Retrieved 15 February 2012. 
  5. ^ "Woosnam enrolled in Welsh Sports Hall of Fame". forgan.co.uk. 2010. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  6. ^ Hodgetts, Rob (24 September 2006). "Ryder Cup 2006". BBC Sport. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c Carradice, Phil (28 May 2010). "Welsh Ryder cup players". BBC. Retrieved 15 February 2012. 
  8. ^ Davies, John; Jenkins, Nigel; Menna, Baines et al., eds. (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 733. ISBN 978-0-7083-1953-6. 
  9. ^ a b "Wales set to host golf's 2014 Seniors Open". BBC Sport. 2 September 2011. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  10. ^ Clifford, Richard (1 September 2011). "Golf: Senior Open set for Royal Porthcawl". Western Mail. walesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  11. ^ "Europe's Ryder Cup victory watched by thousands in sun". BBC News. 4 October 2010. Retrieved 15 February 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "'Royal' Golf Clubs". golftoday.co.uk. October 2009. Retrieved 17 February 2012.