Wales will soon have one
of the longest golf courses outside of America – following the decision to allow
The Vale Hotel, Golf and Country Club to develop a second championship standard
course at its leisure resort on the outskirts of Cardiff.
The planning green light
is a further boost to the Wales’s bid to host Ryder Cup 2009 as The Vale becomes
the M-4 corridor’s third major two- course golfing complex which can also offer
four or five star accommodation. Celtic Manor and Marriott St Pierre are the other
The Vale project is the
brainchild of South Wales businessman Gerald Leeke – managing director of the
Leekes Group of Out of Town Department Store – and the planned new course will
take investment in the Hensol-based project to over £20 million.
The Vale has recently signed
up its 143 bed hotel to the Ryder Cup bid – helping to ensure that Wales can guarantee
the 5,000 beds required for visiting officials, sponsors and media who will attend
The course, already named
The Wales National, will be built to US golfing standards and specifications but
it will be two years before it is brought into play, opening in Spring 2003. The
73-par course will cover almost 200 acres and will include five water features
that will come in to play on nine holes.
The National is being masterminded
by The Vale’s Director of Golf, Peter Johnson, who designed the complex’s existing
6,700 yard Lake Course and has a growing international reputation in this specialised
field, having designed a number of courses in East Africa, while others closer
to home include St Mary Hill.
"When completed it
will be almost 8,000 yards – one of the longest outside of America – and will
become the Vale’s premier course," said Johnson.
"New golf club technology
has seen top golfers like Tiger Woods destroying the reputation of some of our
traditional courses with their huge driving – and we have to develop more challenging
He plans to adopt ideas
picked up while working and visiting America and will incorporate "an American
touch to a traditional Welsh landscape."
"I’m a bit of a traditionalist
and will be setting out to mould the course into the countryside, making the most
of the land’s natural contours and features," added Johnson.
Vale’s Managing Director,
Stephen Leeke said expansion to a two-course resort had, to a great extent, been
forced upon them by the success of the venture. When the hotel aspect of the complex
was built, golf members were given an undertaking that the additional business
it would attract would not adversely affect members’ access to the course.
"To comply with that
promise we have had to turn down massive business in respect of corporate golf
days and weekend golfing packages," said Stephen Leeke. "Over the past
six months alone we have had to turn away an estimated £500,000 of business."
Jonathan Jones, Chief Executive
of the Wales Tourist Board welcomed the decision as "great news for the Welsh
"Golf in Wales has
a growing international profile but, to deliver the promise, we need golf facilities
and resorts to rival the best in the world. This new course will be one of the
longest in the country and add to that a top four-star hotel and spa, just minutes
from the motorway, and Wales will have another serious venue on the global golfing
circuit," he added.
Tony Lewis, Chairman of
Ryder Cup 2009 Wales/Cymru said it was wonderful to see a culture of quality golf
courses developing along the M-4 corridor.
"We talk about the
spread of golf throughout Wales and the richness for the Welsh golfing experience,
but when that is backed up the by the development of a new championship course
then it only helps to strengthen our bid for the right to host the Ryder Cup,"
Since The Vale opened its
doors in time for the Rugby World Cup Final in 1999, its reputation as a leisure
resort has soared. It is the established training headquarters for the Welsh Rugby
Union and the Football Association of Wales and also the home of the WRU’s indoor
Liverpool AFC were based
at the hotel when they won both the FA Cup and the Worthington League Cup and
they return to their "lucky" hotel next week when they meet Manchester
Utd at the Millennium Stadium in the new season’s traditional curtain-raiser –
The Charity Shield.
The Vale is also able to
boast one of Wales’ largest Health Spas, which has recently expanded to 19 treatment
rooms, and a fitness centre with a membership of more than 3,000.