How Twenty Ten at Celtic Manor stacks up against Valhalla as a Ryder Cup venue
On both, the back nine is superior for galleries compared to a more spread out front nine. At Valhalla, holes 13 thru about 17 are all very close to one another, and produce some incredible sound, starting at the island green 13th. From there, there are a lot of natural amphitheatres along the fairways and greens of the par-3 14th and subsequent narrow 15th and 16th that play parallel to one another, and can get some large crowds along the outer sides.
Celtic Manor’s closing stretch is famously good. The drivable par-4 15th hole, the first of the holes into the hill, receives massive crowds around the green, and fans are getting plunked in the head constantly from the blind tee shot. From there, the course plays along the hillside, about 1300 yards along it back towards the 18th green. The par-3 10th and par-4 14th, two greens closest to the hillside also gets huge crowds surrounding the green.
For corporate hospitality, Valhalla’s 7th hole had the bulk of the venue’s VIP action. The long par 5 with the island fairway certainly created for plenty of eagles and splooshes to enjoy while enjoying appetizers and Kentucky bourbon. Even better, all the matches made it that far. At Celtic Manor, VIP suites line the 16th, 17th and 18th holes, making for a great spot to watch matches end - though some haven’t even made it to the 16th.
Thus far, Celtic Manor has been a bit quieter than Valhalla, which had both a loud American base plus a very sizable, singing European gallery. I haven’t seen the Americans out in as heavy numbers as the Euros had in Kentucky, and they don’t seem to have the organization on the road with costumes and singing compared to when the Europeans are in the States. But the American team prevailing at some crucial points has helped to quiet the Euro faithful (plus, I think beer is pricier here).
Rain may be a reason for the relative quiet. The course has been playing very long, and Valhalla yielded more birdies and even some eagles. The moisture has really made the par 5s play long here and no eagles have been scored yet all event. It’s certainly been more “risk” than “reward” if Phil Mickelson hasn’t proven that already.
I’ve spent most of my time at Twenty Ten’s 18th hole thus far, mostly because my foul weather boots are still being kept hostage by British Airways back at London Heathrow and the course’s valley spots are a mud bath. The European fans haven’t been able to make the 18th hillside erupt quite yet. The Americans have owned this hole thus far, with key wins by Ricky Fowler and Jim Furyk, as well as Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar winning their match over Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy. No European team has won their match on the 18th hole - or won the hole to salvage a halve thus far.
Come morning though, with six European teams ahead in their match, we may start to see the roars get very loud.
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