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Nigel's plans leave Welsh golf in strong state
19th October 2011

Nigel Edwards (Photo courtesy Golf Union of Wales)

Victorious Walker Cup Captain Nigel Edwards is confident he is leaving Welsh golf in a strong position after accepting a new job in England.

Edwards is the Golf Union of Wales director of player development and coaching, but has accepted the senior role as Director of Coaching for the English Golf Union, starting early in 2012.

43-year-old Edwards is one of the finest amateur golfers Wales has ever produced, playing a Welsh record four times in the Walker Cup alongside players such as world number one Luke Donald and US Open champion Rory McIlroy. Edwards sank the winning putt for GB and I in the 2003 contest at Ganton golf club.

"I am excited about the new challenge, but also sad to be leaving my role with the Golf Union of Wales," admitted Edwards.

"There are more players and a bigger budget in England so it is a great career opportunity, I think I can make an impact there with the skills I have developed in Wales.

"I am sorry to be leaving Wales but I feel we have developed a structure which will continue to benefit Welsh golf. Working alongside the excellent coaches, we have maximised resources to get things going in the right direction.

"We won the Ladies Home Internationals back-to-back for the first time and also have seen the development of players such as Amy Boulden and Rhys Pugh. I like to think I have played a part in all of that.

"England are pretty successful anyway, all you have to do is look at someone like Tom Lewis who was part of our winning Walker Cup team and has already won a European Tour event. However I hope I can make a contribution there too."

Golf Union of Wales chief executive Richard Dixon has started the hunt for a replacement and the job now is to build on the good work put in place.

"We would like to congratulate Nigel on his new role and wish him all the best with the English Golf Union," said Dixon.

"It is a great compliment to him and to Wales, we are sure he will continue to be a wonderful ambassador for us.

"He has put a huge amount of work into changing the structures in Welsh golf, developing the academy system throughout Wales and putting a regional coaching system in place to identify and develop talent.

"There are some excellent coaches and a strong system in place which we will aim to build on to maintain the production line of Welsh golfing talent at all levels of the game in Wales.

"While Nigel was responsible for developing the elite end of golf, we also offer plenty of support to clubs and encourage the future of the game through Golf Development Wales."

The EGU's Chief Executive, John Petrie, said: "We are really pleased to be welcoming Nigel to England and the EGU. His playing record in the amateur game speaks for itself and he has also done some impressive work in changing the structures in Welsh golf, developing the academy system throughout Wales and putting a regional coaching system in place to identify and develop talent.

"The level of amateur golf in England is exceptionally high and therefore we were looking for an extraordinarily high calibre candidate to fill this vacancy. Nigel's experience both on and off the course is outstanding and we are looking forward to working with him and continuing to develop the success of English golf."

Edwards, from Caerphilly, has been a long term member of Whitchurch golf club in Cardiff. With four playing appearances and winning as captain, he will go down as one of the greats of Walker Cup history - alongside the likes of English pair Peter McEvoy and Gary Wolstenholme. His prolific amateur career also includes victory in the South African Open.

"I think the Walker Cup has given me greater respect and profile," he admitted. "Great Britain and Ireland needed to win that Walker Cup and being part of it was special.

Nigel Edwards in a Walker Cup match (Courtesy Golf Union of Wales)

"People will know me more for that than the work I have done with the Golf Union of Wales because of the huge profile it brings, but that is only part of the story.

"I started more than a decade ago running the championships and developing the coaching structure at the Welsh Golfing Union, then it changed to the merged Golf Union of Wales and I was able to work more closely with players and coaches in developing their skills and the structure.

"It is not coaching, but giving them the benefit of my experience and passion. We have had quite a bit of success in Wales with the emergence of players such as Amy Boulden and Rhys Pugh, as well as winning back-to-back Ladies Home Internationals for the first time and winning the Mens Home Internationals in 2002.

"We have increased funding from Sport Wales and the R and A to back our talent identification programme - we are aiming to have more tournaments at the younger levels and GUW endorsed regional coaching centres to back that up.

"I can look back with pride and think we have a structure in place, with some talented coaches, that can go from strength to strength in the future.

"I am looking forward to the challenge in England, there are a lot more players and a much bigger budget to build on all the good work that is already in place there."

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