Celtic Manor Resort in Wales builds first golf course specifically intended for the spectacle of the Ryder Cup Matches
Wales desperately wants to host the world’s top international golf events. So much so, they built the first golf course specifically designed for the Ryder Cup Matches - which will come to the country for the first time in 2010 at the Celtic Manor Resort.
It even bears the transparent name: the “Ryder Cup Course". The design was a collaboration of minds from the European PGA, architects and tour pros and can max out at over 7,500 yards. The goal was to create a spectator-friendly, drama-filled golf course with an exciting finish full of strategic options.
Officials describe the new Ryder Cup course as an “inland links", which is true in some regards. It’s first 14 holes are mostly flat and trees seldom come into play. Each hole is lined with thick grasses that leave little hope to find tee shots hit into it. But greens are also soft enough to play an aerial game and water is a factor on many holes.
But from the 15th in, the course takes it up a notch, literally. It treads up to the hills for the last four holes, framed by steep slopes that will serve as natural grand stands for the 40,000-plus spectators expected in 2010.
The 15th is one-of-a-kind. A less-than-perfect tee shot turns it almost into a 380-yard par 5. It’s a sharp, 90-degree dogleg right, uphill, to a perched green guarded in front by a creek running down the hillside. Once on the green, you notice an extended fringe to the right and realize from the tee it’s possible take a drive over the trees, uphill about 270 yards to the green and bypass all of the complications of the traditional route.
Celtic Manor had these kind of desperation risk-reward opportunities, especially down the home stretch, specifically catering to match play.
A common knock on the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club is that it was considered “too American” and not “Irish enough". While the Ryder Cup Course at Celtic Manor is a modern inland course that is primarily flat and could be built almost anywhere (other than the last four holes), the surrounding green mountains and old stone cottages dotted within and around the course certainly give you a timeless, British Isles vibe.
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While I love the telegenic 10th and the 18th, Lou, I'm just sayin'. There's no reason four Cups were held in the middle of an English potato field except Euro superstition.