Whirlwind plans to take the Ryder Cup trophy to the skies and visit every club in Wales have taken off with more than 100 venues signed up to welcome the famous trophy.
Clubs from across the country have seized on the rare opportunity to bring one of sport’s most illustrious prizes to their doorstep during the build up to this month’s Celtic Manor Wales Open.
The Ryder Cup trophy helicopter tour forms part of a campaign to encourage clubs to nominate Tenovus – the official charity of Ryder Cup Wales 2010 – as their official charity for next year.
Many of the clubs are making a special day out of the visit with some hosting competitions and expecting a large turnout of members to see the trophy.
“We‘ve been overwhelmed with the response for the Ryder Cup trophy tour,” said Tenovus chief executive Claudia McVie. “We are delighted at how they have all demonstrated their commitment to raising awareness for the important work that the charity does for cancer patients and their families.”
PGA Captain Parnell Reilly will be escorting the trophy every second of the way as it criss-crosses the Principality from 26 May to 1 June, dropping in on up to 28 clubs a day.
As part of the preparations Reilly travelled to Essex to meet up with captains Paul Lees and Dougie House from Aeromega Ltd who will be piloting the Eurocopter Twin Squirrel for the week-long trip.
“Seeing the helicopter close up really brought home the enormity of the whole week and how busy we‘re going to be,” said Reilly.
The logistics will see a convoy of three BMWs shadow the helicopter as it travels the length and breadth of Wales on its mammoth journey.
“I think we‘re due to visit 27 clubs on the first day, 28 on the second so it’s set to be pretty hectic,” said Reilly.
“But it promises to be really memorable with some clubs even talking about the whole membership turning out to see us arrive.”
Lead pilot Lees, a keen golfer but a self-confessed hacker, is looking forward to the challenge especially as he was involved in the last Ryder Cup flying parties to and from The K Club.
“Normally the closest I get to the Ryder Cup is cheering on Europe against America so it promises to be a very exciting week to fly the trophy to so many different golf clubs in such a short space of time,” he said. “It will be a challenge especially with the clubs in the more remote and hilly locations where the weather can be more unpredictable.”