Wales

Divers' golf lake jewellery hunt at Newport's Celtic Manor

Diver Howard Lewis
Image caption Diver Howard Lewis found Mr Neill's watch and ring

Divers were called in to retrieve a golfer's watch and wedding ring after his bag, clubs and trolley plunged into a lake during a gust of wind.

Alan Neill was playing the final hole at the Ryder Cup 2010 course at Celtic Manor in Newport at the time.

The 39-year-old from Gloucester watched as the wind blew the trolley down a bank and into the lake.

The bag was saved, but the valuables were lost. However, divers found them using underwater metal detectors.

Mr Neill, a financial controller, used a bunker rake to retrieve his golf bag, minus the trolley and several irons, out of the lake.

He found his mobile phone, but a £1,500 watch and his wedding ring, which had been stored in the bag, were nowhere to be seen.

"I even stripped down to my boxer shorts and went in looking for them," said Mr Neill, originally from County Down, Northern Ireland.

"But it's a steep bank and the water was very murky.

"I did manage to find five or six of my missing golf clubs but it was absolutely freezing, too cold to stay in for more than a few minutes.

"I was losing hope and thought our attempts to find the watch and the wedding ring might have buried them further under the sludge on the bottom of the lake."

Greenkeepers took over the search in the morning but it yielded nothing, apart from golf balls.

The Cynon Valley Sub Aqua Club, a group of divers who had performed exercises before in a separate irrigation reservoir for the golf courses, were called in to help.

'Wedding anniversary'

After a couple of hours searching, advanced diver Howard Lewis was able to find the watch and wedding ring with the help of underwater metal detecting equipment.

"The watch is quite valuable but I was most worried about losing the wedding ring," Mr Neill said.

"Most things are replaceable but a wedding ring is not. We're celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary in September so it feels great to have the ring back.

"The watch was still ticking when they found it so my only losses are a seven-iron and a GPS range-finding device, which I retrieved at the time but it has not worked since being in the water."

Mr Neill's misfortune follows a similar incident when an optician and qualified diver found an angler's glasses which had fallen into the sea in Swansea Marina.

Optician Nick King was asked to provide Mike Richardson with an emergency pair of glasses, but he offered to dive and find the specs.

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