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A Gwynedd golf club which saw its income drop by more than £100,000 during 2020 is looking beyond Covid-19 with confidence, having turned to the latest technology to ensure long-term sustainability.

Porthmadog Golf Club is a traditional links course with stunning views of the Cardigan Bay coastline and Snowdonia. Established in 1905 by James Braid, the genius course designer of his day, it appeals to both loyal local members and visitors.

But the club has a problem – untidy bunkers. Rabbits are constantly digging bunker edges and exacerbating natural erosion while golfers themselves also cause the bunkers to erode. The famous Welsh weather is not helping either.

The solution lies in synthetic golf bunkers, so the club applied for a £25,000 Be Active Wales grant from Sport Wales towards the substantial cost of installing the patented technology which is growing in popularity across the golfing world. Not only will the new bunkers improve the visual appeal of the course, but the amount of maintenance required will be reduced. The work is due to be completed in time for the club’s hosting of the Welsh Team Championship in 2022.

Club Secretary Gwilym Jones explains: “Bunkers or hazards help make the course competitive and appealing. We are very dependant on visitor income so it’s important that the course is well maintained so that people want to come back time and time again.”

“This visitor income helps make golf affordable to local people. It means we can keep the subscription fees at a reasonable price.”

The funding awarded to Porthmadog Golf Club came from the ‘Progress’ element of the Be Active Wales Fund, which provides grants of between £300 and £50,000 to support sports clubs and organisations with their future plans so that they can offer even better opportunities for the nation to be active beyond the Covid-19 crisis.

With the current lockdown restrictions in mind, many sports clubs and organisations may once again find the ‘Protect’ element of the Be Active Wales Fund extremely welcome. As well as being open to help new applicants cover their fixed costs (e.g. rent, utilities) while they deal with lost revenue during this period, the funding is also open to any clubs that have previously received Protect funding, provided it is at least three months since their last award. 

The Be Active Wales Fund application process has been streamlined so that it is now easier for clubs to apply for the funding they need. Grants are also still available to help clubs prepare to make their activities Covid secure once restrictions are eased.

Since the pandemic began, more than 800 sports clubs and organisations across Wales have benefited from a share of over £1.8m through the Be Active Wales Fund, and more is still available for Sport Wales to distribute thanks to money from Welsh Government and re-purposed funding from the National Lottery.