ANGLESEY’s only golf driving range has reopened after an agreement was secured with the local authority.

October saw the closure of Llangefni golf course close after the authority announced it was selling off the nine-hole facility as it was losing money.

At the time, however, the authority also announced it was looking for a new leaseholder to take over the on-site 16-bay driving range,  opened in 2007 thanks to significant financial backing from the Ryder Cup Legacy Fund.

The former leaseholders, Partneriaeth Llangefni, had decided that operating the driving range was not feasible, but the facility has now reopened after the lease was taken over by coach and PGA professional Matthew Wharton.

Mr Wharton, based in Llanllechid near Bethesda, formerly worked at both the Treborth driving range and St Deiniol (Bangor) Golf Club, and hopes to establish the facility as a starting point for youngsters picking up the sport for the first time.

“I think the key is encouraging more people to take up golf, as the tendency has been that the profile of the sport has been an ageing one,” he said.

“We are also targeting people who may not be present members of golf clubs, and encouraging them to use some of the great courses we have on the island, which can only benefit everyone really.”

Mr Wharton also hopes to establish a crazy golf facility to revamp the driving range over the coming months, with the opening hours also extended to 8pm over the winter and 10pm in the summer thanks to the installation of floodlighting equipment.

“The support we’ve had in our first week has been tremendous,” said Mr Wharton, who also wants to establish a Golf Môn academy to develop young players.

“It goes to show there’s a real need for a driving range like this on the island.”

Anglesey Council has promised to re-invest the proceeds of the 42-acre golf course’s eventual sale in leisure facilities and the opening of a new soft play area for children and families at Llangefni’s Plas Arthur leisure centre.

They also want to retain the nine-acre driving range, shop, outbuildings, car park and small practice area as a resource for golf on the island.

Cllr Carwyn Jones, economic development portfolio holder, said: “The authority is pleased to have successfully concluded negotiations with Mr Matthew Wharton to take over the running of the driving range.

“The Llangefni Golf Driving Range will now remain open for public use and is safeguarded for the foreseeable future.

“This is an important development for Anglesey and will contribute to attracting local golfers and visitors alike.

“It will also help promote participation in the sport of golf, encourage physical activity and healthy lifestyles.”

He added: “Subject to public consultation, Anglesey’s executive has, in principle, also agreed to dispose of the nearby 42-acre Llangefni Golf Course.

“Proceeds of the sale will be invested in the improvement of other leisure facilities.

“We have had no choice but to scale down facilities and non-statutory services operated by our leisure services in the face of significant funding cuts year on year.”