Wales ‘legacy’ a warning to Scotland

2014 09 455580600

The news that Wales will no longer have a national Open should come as a stark warning to those who believe the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles will galvanise Scottish golf.


The Ryder Cup is no magic wand, not by a long shot.

Wales is the perfect example of talking something up to the point of no return. Less than a year after Graeme McDowell secured the winning point at Celtic Manor, the Wales Ladies Open, the Senior Wales Open and the Wales Challenge were dumped from the schedule.

Becky Brewerton, one of Wales’ top female tour professionals, told bunkered.co.uk she was “absolutely distraught” at the news.

Now it has emerged that there will no longer be a Wales Open on the European Tour.

It may or may not return in four to five years, according to Celtic Manor owner Sir Terry Matthews. European Tour spokesperson Keith Waters told the BBC he was “sure” it would return.

Regardless, that’s not exactly a legacy to crow about. It’s a far cry from the PR-laden niceties that came tumbling out of the mouth of the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, at the Ryder Cup Opening Ceremony back in 2010.

Economic Impact Survey results for The 2010 Ryder Cup

“Many millions of people will be watching this event around the world and that kind of exposure is proving invaluable to us in developing our reputation abroad for business, inward investment and tourism,” he said with gusto.

“And it doesn’t come to an end once the last shot is played. There’s a tremendous legacy from hosting this event - for the game of golf, for the economy and for the profile of Wales as a nation.”

Except it effectively has come to an end, and within just four years. Wales no longer has a top-flight tour event on its schedule next year. The bubble has burst.
"What legacy is there? Is there a legacy at all?" - Becky Brewerton

Brewerton, three years ago, questioned whether the legacy was just a smokescreen. She said: “If someone is saying the Ryder Cup will have a legacy and then as soon as the Ryder Cup’s over you lose a tournament like that, quite a big event on tour, you think, ‘Well, what legacy is there? Is there a legacy at all?’”

Richard Dixon, the chief executive of the Golf Union of Wales, told me in an email exchange three years ago that Wales had lots of to be proud about, despite the setbacks of tournament closures.

He pointed to the fact that Ryder Cup money paid for driving ranges and improved facilities at clubs across the country, and that it was unfair to focus on the problems with the staging of professional tournaments. This, in fact, is correct, as his remit is not necessarily geared towards the professional game but, rather, to development and growth at grassroots level.

Read more --> Paul McGinley rallies home crowd ahead of Gleneagles.

If, however, the professional game is all but redundant just a matter of months after a Ryder Cup, there isn’t much hope for the future.

Just the other day, a TV programme in the States reported that “a golf course closes somewhere in America every 48 hours”. Golf is not healthy right now and the ripples from America are stating to show in Europe.

The Seniors Tour in Europe this year did not start until late May, such is the lack of congestion on the schedule.

The Ryder Cup in Scotland, so far, has been a huge success and funded the creation of ClubGolf, the junior initiative.

2014 Ryder Cup - One Year to Go

Ted Bishop, boss of the PGA of America, told us this was an imitative that he wished he could roll out back home in the States. “To introduce to the game in that fashion is a great idea and it’s much more inclusive than anything we have over here in the United States,” he told bunkered magazine this summer.

So, we’re on the right track. But then so was Wales in the lead-up to Celtic Manor in 2010 before it all went wrong. It’s a cliché but lessons must be learned if Scotland is to prosper, and not falter, from Gleneagles 2014.

Lessons from Wales ... but will Scotland learn them?

What do you make of the cancellation of the Wales Open? Do you think Scotland will be able to avoid the pitfalls of the Welsh Ryder Cup 'legacy'? Leave your thoughts in our 'Comments' section below.

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