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Last Updated: Friday, 12 August 2005, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Women tee off at Llanelli course
Machynys
The new course is part of Llanelli's regeneration
Some of the top professional golfers from 28 different countries are playing in one of the biggest women's events at a new course in Llanelli.

There are hopes the Machynys Peninsular Golf Club will help regenerate a town that has suffered a major decline in its manufacturing and industrial base.

The links, designed by Gary Nicklaus, son of golf legend Jack, opened in May.

Built on former waste land overlooking the Gower peninsular, more than 7m has been invested at the site to date.

International coverage

Laura Davies, Britain's most successful female golfer, plus Welsh stars Becky Morgan and Becky Brewerton are among the 140-strong field in the fourth richest event on the LPGA tour - the 350,000 Wales Ladies Championship of Europe.

It is the first time a major championship has been held on course in the UK so soon after it opened.

Dave Gilbert
Dave Gilbert said the course would change the image of Llanelli

With international television and media coverage and galleries of up to 16,000 expected over the four days, it is hoped Machynys will soon be established on the golfing map.

Huw Jones, Ladies European Tour chief, described the facilities as first class.

"During my six years on the Tour, both in Europe and USA, these are some of the best greens and tees I have seen," he said.

Dave Gilbert, head of regeneration at Carmarthenshire Council, said the course was playing a crucial role in changing the image of the town.

"The course is part of a regional master plan to change the perception of Llanelli," he said.

"We have lost many manufacturing jobs and the perception of Llanelli was a steel town.

Golf
140 players from 28 countries are competing over four days

"The course, along with the Millennium Coastal Park and other developments, is part of a jigsaw to put Llanelli on the map."

The development has been largely financed by a partnership between project mangers Sawtrees Ltd, golf architects Nicklaus Design and course builders Southern Golf.

Jim Anderson of Sawtrees Ltd, said staging the championships so soon after opening was a major boost for Machynys as Wales looks forward to hosting the Ryder Cup in 2010.

"The perception and credibility of the course has gown tremendously because of this championship," he said.

"There is a tremendous buzz in golf in Wales with the 2010 Ryder Cup.

Ruth and John Edwards
Ruth and John Edwards attended their first golf tournament

"When people come to Wales to play golf, especially from America, they want to play three or four top courses. I think it has got to be a good thing not just for this area but Wales."

Some of those living close by agree.

Spectators Ruth and John Edwards, who live in south Llanelli, said the event was attracting visitors to the town.

Mrs Edwards said: "I never followed golf as I thought it was a rich man's sport and this is the first time I have come to watch it.

"It's right on my doorstep and I'm thrilled. Look around at the people who have come here who never have come to Llanelli before."

The Wales Ladies Championship of Europe ends on Sunday.


SEE ALSO:
Celtic Manor Wales Open tees off
02 Jun 05 |  South East Wales
Drive for golf tourists
28 Apr 03 |  Wales


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