The only golf course in history to be purpose built for The Ryder Cup has been officially opened on the eve of its first professional tournament.
The new Twenty Ten course and clubhouse were launched by the Rt Hon Rhodri Morgan AM, First Minister for Wales, on Wednesday 28th May in the company of Sir Terry Matthews, Chairman of The Celtic Manor Resort, and George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour.
In a letter to Sir Terry sent from Clarence House, Prince Charles said, “If I may, I am writing to congratulate everyone associated with the magnificent achievement opening today. The creation of the new Ryder Cup Course and the Celtic Manor and the opportunities which this brings to Wales are on an unprecedented scale.
“In creating this new course, Terry Matthews is bringing to Wales the third largest sporting event on the globe and with it, and with The European Tour bringing a sense of pride in what this great nation can achieve.
“I wish you well, please give my congratulations to the Assembly Government, The European Tour, and the staff of the Celtic Manor, on and off the course this is a great thing.”
The Twenty Ten course, clubhouse and surrounding infrastructure have been built at a total cost of £16 million to meet commitments made by The Celtic Manor Resort as part of its successful bid to stage The Ryder Cup in 2010.
The new course will provide a spectacular challenge for not only the European and American stars of The Ryder Cup but also many of the leading professionals on The European Tour who will see it for the first time in this week’s Celtic Manor Wales Open.
At a press conference prior to the plaque unveiling, Sir Terry Matthews said, “We pledged to do the things necessary to ensure that we have here at Celtic Manor the very best facilities for hosting the 2010 Ryder Cup. I would say on behalf of my family, myself and the Celtic Manor people here, we are proud of what we have created here. This is, as you know, the only course in history which has ever been created for this great event.
“Our first club members are already enjoying playing this world-class course and reflecting on their rounds and the very nice clubhouse, also built specifically for The Ryder Cup. And for many years, we shall enjoy this facility, not just for The Ryder Cup not just for The Wales Open but for many, many events.
“For The Ryder Cup we are expecting more than 50,000 people a day will come here to see the event. You will see that we have taken advantage of the side of the hills to create quite an arena for the spectators, being able to handle crowds in very, very large numbers, whether that’s during the play or whether it’s around the play, or whether it surrounds the play with the areas for the tented village, the areas for bringing in and out vehicles. I think we can safely say that this will be the most spectator-friendly Ryder Cup ever.
“Some areas are not yet completed: the on and off ramps from the major highways and monster bus parks to bring people in and out. It really is designed to accommodate giant crowds, and already with The European Tour, we are looking at events even beyond The Wales Open and the Ryder Cup. You‘ll find the best facilities ever for the players, the best facilities ever for the spectators and for the sponsors.
“Some additional resort facilities will be needed; as an example we still have to complete quite a few additional rooms and facilities for people to stay, and there’s still a bridge to be constructed across the River Usk. All of these are pretty large events but well within the scope of our plan to get it done on time.”
The Twenty Ten clubhouse features a members’ lounge with leather chesterfields, high-backed chairs and a warming open hearth, and the laid-back elegance of the traditional gentleman’s club is further evoked by luxurious, oak-panelled locker rooms. With a spacious and airy feel, the clubhouse also boasts a spike bar, pro’s shop and Rafters Restaurant, named for its floor to ceiling cedar beams.
Long balconies take full advantage of a stunning location on the hillside overlooking the 18th hole, which provides such a dramatic conclusion to any round on The Twenty Ten Course, as well as the scenic Usk Valley beyond.
The Rt Hon Rhodri Morgan AM, First Minister for Wales, said, “This is Wales‘ equivalent of the Olympics. You know, Wales is a country far too small to be able to host the two biggest events in the world, the Olympics or the football World Cup. We can‘t do those two events. But we have gone for, and will be delivering in two years‘ time through this remarkable partnership of private and public sector, the third bigger sporting event on the planet in terms of TV coverage, and this is The Ryder Cup.
“So you‘ll get the players producing the excitement and the 300 million people or so who tune into The Ryder Cup will be able to generate their own excitement in their own living rooms by watching the crowd respond to what the players are doing against a fantastic backdrop of the Vale of Usk, which will leave them in a very good impression of Wales.
“Wales as a location for golf tourism obviously and as a location for tourism in general and Wales as a location for making films and TV series in general and Wales as a focus for inward investment or coming to study at university or coming to take up jobs in a professional capacity. Whatever it might be, it’s going to give them a very, very good impression of Wales and that’s why we are deeply impressed.
“But it’s a partnership between the private and public sector, between Newport, ourselves, Celtic Manor Resort and The European Tour in putting on what we are increasingly confident now will be the best World Cup ever, and that will be the benchmark of whoever is doing it in 2014 and 2018 to see whether they can fulfill the impossible job of exceeding what we will have done in 2010.”
George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said, “It was just over ten years ago that Ken Schofield and myself first met Sir Terry Matthews, and you didn‘t need long to realise, here was an exceptional man.
“I think in the time since we met him we‘ve just seen the unrelenting pursuit of perfection that he drives all his businesses with, and certainly this one. He told us about how he got Robert Trent Jones to build one golf course here and then he wanted The Ryder Cup, and he wanted it to be the best facility for a Ryder Cup that he could dream of.
“Now, together with Robert Trent Jones’s initial plans and the work of our own design company, European Golf Design, I think we have a masterpiece out here and the reason I say that is because so many players who have played it already have told me so.
“Padraig Harrington came here on Monday and played; the rain delay we have now means we have talked to a lot of players in the clubhouse this morning, and we talked to quite a few at the gala evening last night, which is so popular, as has every Wales Open been since we have first come down here. There’s not one other tournament that looks after our players better than here in Wales.
“We are really looking forward to The Ryder Cup in 2010. We have a steering committee that meets regularly and it’s chaired by the First Minister. That has not happened anywhere else in any Ryder Cup, and that leadership, that vision and that drive give us great confidence.”
“All I can say is good luck, and I hope it goes well and thank you for this marvelous occasion today. Well done.”
The Celtic Manor Resort www.celtic-manor.com