The resort at Celtic Manor was conceived and developed by Sir Terence Matthews. In the late 1970s, Matthews bought a near-derelict manor house and turned it into a small hotel. The hotel became popular and successful, winning the Egon Ronay Best Hotel in Wales award five years on the trot. Matthews’s long-term vision was a golfing complex and no doubt he thought the piece de resistance was the Wentwood Hills course, which opened for play in September 1999, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr but we doubt that even in his wildest dreams could he ever have imagined that Celtic Manor would host a Ryder Cup.
A bit of Augusta, a bit of Florida and a lot of Wales, was how they referred to Wentwood Hills and they were absolutely right. There was a coalition of British and American features, which Trent Jones Jnr described as “a true championship course that combines a hilly landscape with the more traditional links-like features of an estuary. There's great variety here”. But all that was before Celtic Manor became the chosen venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup when a decision was made to create a new course for staging golf’s greatest team event.
In July 2007, the first course to be built specifically for the Ryder Cup opened its tees for play. The course, aptly called “Twenty Ten”, is the result of collaboration between the European PGA, golf course architects and tour pros; the objective was to create a unique Ryder Cup venue.
The new Twenty Ten course measures a beefy 7,493 yards with par set at 71. It features nine dramatic new holes that have been routed through the Usk Valley, as well as nine holes from the former Wentwood Hills course that have been extensively re-fashioned. The new design ensures not only that each hole is an exacting test but also that there is an amphitheatre for great spectator viewing.
With water hazards on half of its holes and no fewer than six signature holes, Twenty Ten represents a serious test and also plenty of risk-and-reward challenges. Variety is a keyword of Twenty Ten, where a number of holes on the outward nine have a links-like feel before you enter the lake-lined middle section prior to reaching the elevated closing stretch of four holes which witnessed plenty of memorable Ryder Cup drama.
Wentwood Hills was a formidable championship layout but Twenty Ten is perhaps even more frightening, especially if your game is off tune. If you are a lover of all things traditional, then Celtic Manor is probably not for you. But if you are seeking thrills and an exciting and tough challenge, then Twenty Ten will fit the bill perfectly. Celtic Manor are allowing limited public play on the Ryder Cup course, so make the most of it before they close their tees for the sole enjoyment of the new prestigious Twenty Ten Club members.
Having walked the Twenty Ten during the days of the Wales Open it was time to play the course and an Open pairs betterball in October provided an ideal opportunity. A well organised event with everything off-course excellent. Course was in good condition although winter rules were in operation (balls did collect mud) and greens were a bit slow; interestingly one heavy shower resulted in a flooded green but compared to other reviewers we had good conditions following a dry spell. I'm not a great lover of modern style courses but was pleasantly surprised. Course reminds me of Machynys except more interesting and water more in play. A good solid start to the course, including the heavily bunkered par 5 2nd and short 3rd over water. Gets going at the 5th (which is an excellent par 4) and the 6th with water all down the right hand side and a right side pin making an exciting shot over the water. From here until 13 a series of good holes, with water on holes 12 and 13 very much in play. Hole 14 is a fantastic golf hole, one of the best I have played; a sort of double dog-leg and having played to the fairway left of the water, you are then faced with an enticing shot over the water to the green and if you area just a couple yards short of the green you roll back down the bank into the water (which i managed). After that I found 15 a bit disappointing; not really a risk and reward hole off the yellows as not much trouble beyond the trees if you take the straight route. Unlike previous reviewers (and it is all about opinion) I thought 16 and 17 were a bit bland and generally thought after 14 the course just petered out a bit. Holes 5 to 14 were really good though
Played the 2010 as part of a Society stay and play trip to Celtic Manor which was great fun - nice hotel with first class facilities. Good nights out in Caerleon and Cardiff. The club house is great, as are the shuttle and practice areas. However...in a wet Summer the course was extremely damp and very slow, with the memorable holes left until the end by which time we were frustrated and a bit bored. The least enjoyable of the 3 courses.