The race to host the Ryder Cup Matches in 2009 stepped up a gear this weekend as those promoting the cause of the North East of England and the bid from Slaley Hall reportedly increased their financial commitment to £55 million. This includes a pledge of £22 million from Sport England and an allocation of £10 million to fund opening and closing ceremonies to be held on the banks of the River Tyne.
The Regional Development Agency, One NorthEast, is spearheading England’s bid for the Ryder Cup in 2009. Supported by Nova International, organisers of the Great North Run, the bid aims to bring to the North East the world’s third largest sporting event and the boost to the economy that goes with it. The Agency recognises that the benefits of such an event on tourism development, economic growth, job creation and investment are immense.
Television audiences of over 700 million people will watch the tournament and will see positive, attractive images of the North East, impressing the viewer and reinforcing the aspirations and pride of the Region itself.
The target set for the Ryder Cup and associated events is to generate over £140 million of spend in the Region. Previous Ryder Cups in Valderrama and Boston generated £58 million and £100 million respectively.
Dr. John Bridge, Chairman, One NorthEast said, “The North East’s bid for the 2009 Ryder Cup has been greeted with great enthusiasm and excitement by everyone I have spoken with. As well as the golf itself, which is guaranteed to be of the highest quality, the economic benefits also speak for themselves. It will attract tens of millions of pounds to the North East, create new businesses and create new jobs. The effects of a successful bid would be seen in the Region for decades to come.”
One of the major aspects to the England bid is the creation of a Centre of Excellence – a North East Golfing Academy. Programmes of master-class golf coaching will be run with the support of top golfers and special facilities will be developed for people with disabilities.
Dr. Bridge added, “Sport is the stuff of legend in the North East. We are competing with the very best in football and athletics but not golf. Here we have a chance to change all that, to let every schoolchild and all those who have never had the opportunity before in the North East to sample golf. If everyone has the chance to play, we multiply the chances of a world-class player of the future hailing from this Region. The strength of our bid lies in these thousands of new, committed golfers and the use of sport to promote economic growth.
“One NorthEast are underwriting the costs necessary to deliver the full programme of events which will culminate in the Ryder Cup itself should the bid be successful. This investment will be the catalyst for private sector investment and sponsorship. The economic benefits alone will far outweigh the costs and we must also consider the prestige the Region will gain on a world stage and the opportunities it will create.”
Partners involved in the bid include the Northumbria Tourist Board and the De Vere Group, who own the Slaley Hall Hotel and Golf Course where the event would be staged. The course has already staged major tournaments and this year’s Ryder Cup at The Belfry will be the fourth that De Vere has hosted.
The drive to bring the Ryder Cup to the North East of England in 2009 also includes the launch of an initiative to broaden participation in the game at grass roots level. The Golf Foundation, One NorthEast and local authorities have combined to form a partnership to deliver golf sessions in primary schools across the region.
The ‘Extra Golf’ initiative will increase awareness of the Golf Foundation’s brand new primary schools golf game, ‘Tri-Golf’ which uses plastic golf clubs, foam golf balls and fun games and activities as a first introduction to the game for youngsters.
As part of its involvement in the Ryder Cup bid, One NorthEast has made £15,000 available to initiate the ‘Extra Golf’ project. The delivery of golf sessions to primary school children will come from the local authorities and in particular sports development officers, PGA professionals, teachers and students.
Golf Foundation development manager Stuart Armstrong said, “This is an exciting project, allowing us to accelerate our plans for golf in the region. The involvement of One NorthEast means we can bring Tri-Golf to the area in a far more comprehensive manner, involving the community in a co-ordinated development structure. The funding will mean that over 5,000 children will be given a taste of golf where previously little or no opportunities existed.”
Four of the region’s top professional golf instructors, Marcus Webb (Bedlingtonshire), Gary Shipley (Whitley Bay), Patricia Smiley (Wilton) and Robert Lister (Ramside Hall Hotel) will become regional co-ordinators for Extra Golf.
They will act as the main contact point for Extra Golf helping to set up links with local schools and co-ordinate coaching programmes in conjunction with local sports development officers and active sports partnership managers.
Dr John Bridge, Chairman, One NorthEast concluded, “The appointment of the Tri Golf co-ordinators is a further example of the growing commitment to the development of golf in the NorthEast and supports the Ryder Cup bid.”
One NorthEast www.onenortheast.co.uk
The announcement to confirm the venue for the 2009 Ryder Cup Matches will be made in September. The short list is Slaley Hall; Carnoustie, Gleneagles, Loch Lomond and Turnberry; and Celtic Manor, respectively representing England, Scotland and Wales.
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