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|Nearly 60,000 spectators will be able to watch the action on the par-5 18th hole at the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor. (Brandon Tucker/WorldGolf.com)|
The Celtic Manor Resort in Wales will host the 2010 Ryder Cup Matches. Gearing up for that historic event, Celtic Manor - long a must-play in Wales golf - has spruced up 54 holes of championship golf, including the jaw-dropping Twenty Ten Course.
NEWPORT, Wales - Upon hearing the announcement that Wales had been awarded the 2010 Ryder Cup Matches at the Celtic Manor Resort, Welsh businessman Terry Matthews remarked, "This is not for Celtic Manor, but for all of Wales."
Wales' only billionaire, Matthews left his home for Canada when he was younger and built an empire centered around high tech communications, but has always had a fond interest in Wales. When the opportunity arose to purchase the Celtic Manor Resort in 1980, he jumped at the chance. Matthews has invested over £100 million into the resort, and bringing the Ryder Cup home for the first time in the history of the event stands to pay large dividends for the country's economy.
"The Ryder Cup is the third largest sporting event in the world, behind the World Cup and Olympics in terms of spectator viewing," said Jim Mackenzie, Celtic Manor's director of golf. "It's a wonderful opportunity for Wales to show itself to the world stage."
Celtic Manor has been a worthy venue for the European Tour's Wales Open for years now and has been the country's premier golf retreat. The original Wentwood Hills and Roman Road courses were built by Robert Trent Jones Sr.
But since the Ryder Cup announcement, Celtic Manor has been making dramatic upgrades and additions, playing musical chairs with the routings and names of its courses. Over the last few years, they've created new holes and upgraded existing holes to create its current offering of 54 holes of championship golf.
About three years away from the main event, Celtic Manor has most of its pieces in place. Here's a look at Celtic Manor's newly-formed three championship courses.
Celtic Manor's Twenty Ten Course is the first of its kind to be built with the sole intention of hosting the Ryder Cup Matches, from high, match play drama to accessibility for its expected 50,000 fans.
To complete the course, nine holes were renovated from the original Wentwood Hills course, and nine new holes were built from scratch.
Designing the course was a collaboration between Robert Trent Jones Jr., the European PGA and their firm, European Tour Golf Design, not to mention tour players - including 2006 Ryder Cup European captain and Welshman Ian Woosnam. With the potential to stretch to over 7,500 yards and just a par-71, it's designed to challenge the world's best.
The first 14 holes play on flat terrain with native grasses lining the sides of each hole, creating the feel of an "inland links." These low-lying holes are framed by the lush, green mountains of the Newport-area countryside, dotted with cottages. But there are modern, target-style golf components as well, including plenty of forced carries over water for high drama.
The focal point of the course is the closing stretch, where matches will be won and spectators will flock. The 15th through 18th holes are cut into the side of a mountain, creating a natural amphitheatre for each of the final four holes.
"This will be the first course where the gallery will be able to watch the action not only on the hole they are on, but on the entire finish," said Mackenzie.
This mountainside has the capacity to hold nearly 60,000 spectators along the 16th, 17th and 18th holes. The 18th is a Herculean par 5 that plays to an elevated green guarded by water in front. The tees position and wind will determine whether this hole, built for high-drama, sees players going for the green in two - should their match make it this far.
The new Montgomerie Course, designed by Scottish touring pro Colin Montgomerie, is built on the land that previously featured the Coldra Woods Academy course, and takes nine holes from the former Wentwood Hills course as well. Montgomerie had the bunkers rebuilt, now deep, sod-faced pot bunkers resembling that of traditional links.
After two relatively flat and tame holes, the breathtaking par-5 3rd hole gets your motor running. From about 300 yards away, the fairway tumbles straight downhill towards a green that overlooks the lower valley the Ryder Cup course plays through. From there, the course is a roller coaster of shots never played to the same elevation.
This Montgomerie is more playable and enjoyable to the mid-handicapper who isn't overly concerned with playing where the pros play. It's just under 6,400 yards from the championship tees and its dramatic landscape makes for exciting shots on every hole.
The Roman Road course, named after the years of rule by the Roman Empire, hosted the Wales Open from 2005-2007. It's a championship test designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. set on hilly land overlooking the Severn Estuary and offers views spanning across to Somerset and Devlin. To this day, Roman Roads criss-cross back and forth between holes and the design was shaped so as to avoid disrupting their remains.
The five-star main hotel, which is perched on the top of the hill overlooking the three golf courses, opened in 1999 and features 330 rooms decorated with a traditional, luxurious design. There are several dining options on site, from the Olive Tree Restaurant to Merlins Bar. Guests to the hotel receive complimentary access to the Forum Health Club leisure facilities, and the spa features a full menu of massage and beautification treatments.
Next door, the traditional 19th century Manor House, where Matthews was born when it served as a maternity house, offers charming, relaxed accommodations in a sandstone country house with original Georgian lead windows, wood paneled walls and a sweeping wooden staircase. For more information, see www.celtic-manor.com.
September 25, 2007
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
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