With the Ryder Cup three years away, now's the time for a Wales golf vacation
One main criteria used in deciding which European venue is awarded the Ryder Cup Matches by the European PGA is how it can impact the golf and economics of the proposed venue.
For Wales, being awarded the 2010 Matches at the Celtic Manor Resort has galvanized not only its golf courses but its entire tourism industry - which has lacked the marketing and tour savvy of Scotland, England and Ireland.
They've traditionally been a mostly industrial and rural country but times are changing. Wales' capital, Cardiff, was once a gloomy industrial port. Now it's a sleek, vibrant city with bustling city streets, designer stores, trendy hotels and still plenty of cranes.
Less than three hours by car from London, there isn't much reason for Wales to lag behind its neighbors and they've recognized that. It's a beautiful country with plenty of spectacular coastal and mountain scenery. There are around 200 golf courses, though tour operators like Wales Golf Vacations say there's a rotation of about 36 worthy to overseas golfers.
These courses vary from the renowned to the unknown. The most prestigious links is Royal Porthcawl, host of the 1995 Walker Cup that featured Tiger Woods. This 19th century links anchors the southern region which boasts other solid options like Ashburnham, Pyle & Kenfig and one of the wildest, unique and picturesque links anywhere: Pennard.
The value is tough to beat. After Portcawl (£80) and the new Ryder Cup Course at Celtic Manor (£150), the rest of the pack range from £20-50. The price of a normal four-day package in Scotland, England or Ireland can get you a week or more of courses and accommodation in Wales.
North Americans don't visit Wales much yet, so your odds of stumbling into a pub full of New Yorkers is miniscule. Tee times are easy to get and courses are becoming more and more welcoming to guests from anywhere.
The overall product is still has a few rough edges. But Wales is the golf trip for the group out to trek the uncharted links off the radar - it's an identity and experience all of its own.
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Simply select where you want to play, find a tee time deal, and golf now!