Golf tourism could generate millions of pounds for Wales
Tourism chiefs in Wales have launched a big money bid to bring thousands of golfers into the country.
It is hoped that Wales can capitalise on capturing the 2010 Ryder Cup to break into the lucrative golf tourism market, worth millions to traditional destinations such as Scotland and Ireland.
Thousands of golfers from Europe, the USA and as far afield as Japan, travel to the UK and Ireland each year, to play famous courses including St Andrews and the Belfry.
We need to piggy-back on the existing American golf traffic to the UK and Ireland and persuade US visitors to spend at least part of their trip in Wales
The Wales Tourist Board (WTB) has launched a 10-year TV, press and online campaign to tempt more of the world's estimated 60 million golfers to Welsh courses.
The WTB plans to increase its marketing budget of golf in Wales from £30,000 to £700,000 a year as it plans to treble the amount of golfers currently travelling to Wales to play.
But a team of golf consultants, who compiled a report for the WTB, warned that Wales' golf facilities currently lag behind those found in England, Scotland and Ireland.
The consultants found that there were not enough hotel rooms on courses, teaching facilities were sub-standard and that courses in mid Wales were inaccessible to visitors.
Pontypridd's Phillip Price has helped put Welsh golf on the map
To bring Welsh facilities up to scratch the consultants, who were drawn from four golf firms, estimated that £60m to £70m would need to be spent by the public sector.
As well as winning the right to host the Ryder Cup, Wales will host the International Masters tournament for top amateur players, for the next three years.
Speaking at the launch of the tournament, at the Vale of Glamorgan Golf and Country Club, WTB board member and former Wales rugby international Ieuan Evans, said: "It's difficult to get exact figures on how many people come to Wales exclusively for golf, but we think it's around 30,000 a year.
"We are looking to increase that to about 100,000 people.
"In Scotland, which markets itself as the home of golf, they get around 300,000 golf visits a year, generating £175m for the economy.
Newport's Celtic Manor Resort is hosting the 2010 Ryder Cup
"The problems we have at the moment include only having 490 rooms on courses which isn't enough.
"We need to spread the benefits of hosting the 2010 Ryder Cup across Wales.
"We need to piggy-back on the existing American golf traffic to the UK and Ireland and persuade US visitors to spend at least part of their trip in Wales.
"Winning the Ryder Cup has provided a catalyst to awaken Wales to the potential of golf tourism."
Pontypridd golfer Philip Price, who starred in Europe's Ryder Cup victory over the USA in 2002, added: "Wales is an undiscovered golfing paradise.
"Playing here is more unhurried than elsewhere."