How Katherine Jenkinson and the Ryder Cup 2010 drive tourism
PUBLISHED: 14:32 26 November 2010 | UPDATED: 17:41 20 February 2013
Regional tourism is on course to be the winner of next month's Ryder Cup, says Chris Poole
Its a hit
Regional tourism is on course to be the winner of next months Ryder Cup, says Chris Poole
This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the city, and were grabbing it with both hands, says Councillor Matthew Evans, Leader of Newport City Council. That opportunity is, of course, the Ryder Cup. Celtic Manor resort, on the citys eastern edge, will play host to the tournament in October.
Visiting Newport this summer its easy to feel the impact that this global event is having. The initiatives of Councillor Evans and his colleagues are everywhere to be seen. Its almost as though Newport has puffed out its chest, full of civic pride, and wants to show itself off despite the uncertain economic climate. We were fortunate enough to receive a grant of a little under 4 million from the Welsh Assembly Government to develop legacy projects, explains Matthew Evans. Had we not been hosting the Ryder Cup this wouldnt have happened.
The citys authorities have, wisely, invested in the future by involving schools and children. Together with the European Tour of the Ryder Cup they have created a school curriculum using golf as a theme. Launching it at St Julians junior school some months ago the Chairman of Ryder Cup Wales said: Its thrilling to see the game being used in our schools to motivate and enthuse our children in a whole variety of disciplines.
Needless to say, the city is reaching far beyond the classroom. Newport Festival 2010 embraces music, dance, theatre, film, fashions, sports, exhibitions and more. One of the most striking public appearances is the arrival of dozens of dragons in the city. Not the fire-breathing stuff of legend and St George but the gentler Welsh kind created and decorated by local artists and schoolchildren. The dragons are located throughout the city as a trail and will eventually be auctioned for charity. At least one dragon is near Newports most striking and dominant heritage feature the transporter bridge.
Of all the transporter bridges in the world and there are thought to be only eight surviving this one stands supreme. Nicknamed The Lady of Bridges by a woman from Bilbao (the home of the first bridge of this type to be built) it has dominated Newports skyline for over a hundred years. It is, says Anne Gatehouse Secretary of the Friends of Newports Transporter Bridge: The longest, tallest and most elegant of all the transporters.
This iconic structure is benefitting from this years celebrations in the city too. With funding from Cadw (associated with the Welsh Assembly Government and similar to English Heritage) the bridge has been repaired and redecorated ready to play its full part in the life of the city once again. The friends of the bridge are an active group of supporters who can be contacted through www.fontb.org.uk or Anne Gatehouse on 01633 781612.
The River Usk has always shaped Newports destiny. Now, for much of its length through the city centre, that role is being celebrated with improved facilities for using the riverfronts and colourful displays. The Riverfront theatre and arts centre is the focal point. This gleaming building is host to a rich and diverse range of activities throughout the year and is one of the venues to show the Ryder Cup Heritage Exhibition as it tours Wales. The exhibition enables visitors to see the unfolding story of the tournament and a unique collection of Ryder Cup memorabilia. It was in Newport until August 19; Cardiff from August 22 to September 23 and Celtic Manor itself during the tournament.
Just along the river from the theatre sits Newport Castle: showing its age but still a powerful reminder of the citys past. This castle had a water gate. Something that attracted no less an artist than J M W Turner who painted it along with Tintern Abbey, Chepstow Castle and Llanthony Priory during his tours of South Wales.
In this very special year in the development of the region, Turners work has returned. Twenty miles or so to the east of Newport, Chepstow has long marked the boundary between Wales and England. Close to the elegant iron bridge spanning the Wye, across the centre of which the border runs, and in the shadow of Chepstows great stone castle is Chepstow Museum. And here, until the beginning of September, some of the works of Turner are on show.
The exhibition contains more than 70 watercolours from artists who, like Turner, were drawn to the River Wye and the Wye Tour. Anne Rainsbury, museum curator, says: Its very exciting to be bringing together these wonderful pictures, and bringing them back to the source of their inspiration.
Chepstow Castle itself, as its original function demanded, dominates the lower part of the town where the Wye finally meets its distant cousin, the Severn. The castle was one of the first of the strong, stone fortifications that the Normans needed in this region.
In its shadow, the Castle View Hotel is another place feeling the impact of golf. Owner/manager Michael Currey confirms that: Weve certainly had an increase in demand for rooms over the period of the Ryder Cup. Weve arranged some special offers and will be having Ryder Cup memorabilia available for our guests.
Some 30 miles up the A449/A40 from Newport, Monmouth has only just caught its breath after the events and ceremonies marking the centenary of the death of Charles Rolls (of Rolls Royce) in a flying accident. Once the Rolls family home, the Hendre just outside the town is now home to the Rolls of Monmouth Golf Club. Manager Linda Kedward says: Having been concentrating on the Rolls centenary events during the spring and early summer amongst which Rolls Royce hosted the memorial dinner here were now turning our attention to the Ryder Cup. We are feeling the impact. Bookings to play here immediately before and after the tournament are growing steadily and our accommodation is now almost fully booked. The Rolls golf club is no stranger to prestigious events. About 80 vehicles belonging to the Rolls Royce Enthusiasts Club arrived here in July this year.
Rippling out from Newport and the Celtic Manor, the impact of the Ryder Cup is being felt in Abergavenny too. The Angel Hotel here is one of many that have been taken over by the Ryder Cup Travel Service. Owner William Griffiths explains that the tournament: Has had a very positive impact on us and the area generally. Many of us didnt realise the magnitude of the Ryder Cup in terms of viewers and spectators. Visit Wales have worked very hard to improve the tourism infrastructure across the country.
William Griffithss comments reflect, perhaps, something many hadnt realised that around 50,000 people a day will be coming as spectators during the tournament. As Sir Terry Matthews, owner of the Celtic Manor Resort, points out: The Ryder Cup is quite simply the biggest sporting event that will ever be held in Wales. It will reach a television audience estimated at a billion people. Just imagine that for a moment one billion people!
Celtic Manor, as the Ryder Cups chosen location for 2010, has had many years to prepare. Rob Holt, Chief Executive of Ryder Cup Wales, gives the background: The process started as far back as 2001 when bids were considered by the European Tour of the Ryder Cup. There were very strict criteria to meet, including the creation of a 2 million legacy fund and using the tournament to promote participation in the game. Success in the bidding is a great opportunity for Wales, opening doors for golf tourism and as a business destination showing the world that Wales can successfully host major sports and business events.
Celtic Manor is more than ready for this challenge. Conceived by Sir Terry more than 20 years ago it has been steadily preparing for this event ever since. Now with three championship-level courses, the resort can fairly claim to be the best that Wales can offer. This vast, award-winning complex contains not just golf courses but hotels, spas, restaurants, health clubs and a conference centre.
Of all these facilities, the new Twenty Ten course takes pride of place. Opened for limited play some time ago it was designed specifically to host the Ryder Cup. For those with an interest in the technicalities, the course is around 7,500 yards long with a par of 71. It has a range of challenges for players.
The new clubhouse was opened last year in stunning scenery. It, too, will not disappoint its distinguished visitors this year. The ambience is of an elegant gentlemans club with luxurious locker rooms
and lots of wood and leather.
All this, some may say, for a game that will last for just a few days. But we shouldnt forget that Celtic Manor has been one of the biggest and most effective investments that the region has known in recent years. Hundreds of people are employed here and it brings millions of pounds into the local economy.
Its true that the Ryder Cup will come and go. But its legacy, in Newport, will stay for generations to come. And the citys greatest monument, The Lady of Bridges, now stands proud once more: an enduring reminder of the citys industrial past and a symbol to inspire confidence in its future.
The Ryder Cup
In 1926 a seed merchant from St Albans watching an exhibition golf match between teams of British and American professionals became drawn to the game. His name was Samuel Ryder. By the following year the professional associations from the two countries had agreed to hold competitions every other year. Samuel donated a trophy and the Ryder Cup was born. The first tournament was held at Worcester in Massachusetts (the Americans won). It has been held, with a few interruptions, ever since. The British team expanded to include Irish players and, later, to become a European team. The 2008 competition was in Valhalla, Kentucky and was won by the American team.
Welcome to Wales Concert
It has become something of a Ryder Cup tradition to host a gala dinner to mark the opening of each tournament. But Wales is taking it further by staging a major concert, with Welsh stars to ensure that this Ryder Cup will be one of the most memorable. The concert, says Richard Hills, Director of the Ryder Cup European Tour, is a unique addition to Ryder Cup week. This concert will reinforce the countrys superb commitment
in hosting the contest and providing entertainment of the highest calibre.
Carwyn Jones, Wales First Minister, said: We are keen to ensure a warm Welsh welcome to visitors, this is an ideal way to kick-start the proceedings and show the world what Wales has to offer.
There are not many places in Wales where you can put on a dinner for 1,200 people. The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff fits the bill perfectly. A-list actress Catherine Zeta-Jones will come from her Hollywood home to open the evening that will be giving pride of place to a performance by Katherine Jenkins. The Welsh superstars will be two of many international stars from the entertainment and golfing arenas to celebrate the start of The Ryder Cup during this special 90-minute televised show. Also on stage will be both the European and United States Teams who will be officially introduced to the audience.
As a multi-million selling artist and extraordinary home-grown musical talent, Katherine Jenkins is a world-class Welsh act, perfectly placed to feature in the line-up and will undoubtedly be a highlight of the impressive star-studded show. Having already performed for The Queen, The Prime Minister and The Pope, Katherine will now perform in honour of golfs most prestigious event and will welcome both the European and United States teams to her homeland. His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales has expressed his support for the event.
Cardiff-based choir Only Men Aloud will also be performing. The 19-man Classical BRIT Award winners (Album of the Year) shot to national fame as winners of BBC primetime show Last Choir Standing.
Katherine Jenkins said: Im delighted to be back in Wales for a very special concert to launch this landmark event. To welcome the most prestigious and recognised event in the golfing calendar to Wales is a real honour. I don't think Wales has ever seen anything on this scale so it's very exciting to be part of it. She is no stranger to the stadium, having performed there during Welsh international rugby matches and at the Tsunami Relief concert in 2005.
The Millennium Stadium box office telephone number is 08442 777888. Some of the proceeds will be donated to charities.