There is little doubt that Celtic Manor is among the very finest golf resorts, not just in the UK, but in the whole of Europe. This famous resort sits just inland from the Welsh South coast and offers visiting golfers and non golfers alike an exemplary array of accommodation and dining options as well as outstanding leisure facilities and, of course, 54 holes of superb championship golf. While virtually everything on offer to guests at Celtic Manor is of the very highest order there is little doubt that, following the 2010 Ryder Cup, the stunning Twenty Ten Course is the main attraction.
The purpose built Ryder Cup Course sits at the bottom of a valley, and as a result the surrounding hills serve as natural amphitheatres; providing all you step out onto the lush fairways a taste of the scintillating the atmosphere that was so rife at the 2010 matches between Europe and the boys from the other side of the pond. Playing the Twenty Ten Course is not just about the course though; golfers can enjoy the complete ‘Twenty Ten’ experience which starts with a shuttle run down into the valley which, if you play early in the morning is often shrouded by mist which only adds to the already palpable sense of drama and excitement!
The Twenty Ten Clubhouse in the early morning sun – where your Twenty Ten experience begins.
Next on the menu for all golfers should be a hearty cooked breakfast in the Twenty Ten Clubhouse which, as all golfing aficionados will appreciate, is decked from top to bottom with Ryder Cup memorabilia. And trust me; you will need the energy from such a meal in order to tackle the course which is quite a formidable proposition!
The Twenty Ten locker rooms are as well equiped as most people’s houses and the Ryder Cup memorabilia and Ryder Cup lockers are sure to get you in the mood for the task in hand.
Following a quick change in the locker room, which still houses the personal lockers of the Ryder Cup stars, you head to the first tee which is where the real adventure starts. For those of you who haven’t yet played the famous Ryder Cup course – and we strongly recommend that you do – here is a photo guide of each and every wonderful hole and the facilities that complete the experience.
Hole 1 – Par 4 – 465 yards
A drive that hugs the left hand side of the fairway offers the best route into the green whic, as you can see, is heavily guarded by bunkers. A par here will represent a really solid start.
Hole 2 – Par 5 – 610 yards
Longer hitters will have to thread their tee shot through two large bunkers that sit on either side of the fairway. From there a choice has to be made between laying up or having a pop at the green. Either way you will have to avoid heavy bunkering that starts roughly 150 yards short of the green. Play this hole sensibly with the bunkers in mind and birdie is a realistic score. A classic risk vs. reward par 5.
Hole 3 – Par 3 – 189 yards
The first of the par 3s on the Twenty Ten is perhaps the most challenging. A well struck medium to long iron is required to carry a large water hazard. Miss left and a watery grave awaits your ball while a large bunker on to the right of the green stops players frm taking the soft option and bailing out away from the water. A real test of nerves here!
Hole 4 – Par 4 – 461 yards
An accurate drive is required here as leaving your ball in the heavy rough on either side of the fairway will make hitting the green in regulation a tricky proposal. Hit the fairway however, and par should be acheivable; as long as the large bunker short and oeft of the green is taken out of play by sensible club selection.
Hole 5 – Par 4 – 457 yards
Again a drive must be threaded between large bunkers on both sides of the fairway and for the longer hitters, three wood may be the safer play. The approach shot is where this hole gets tricky. The green is relatively small and shallow and is well guarded by an intimidating water hazard that runs across the fron of the green. Hit this green in regulation and you should escape with a par. Doing so however is easier said than done. Danger lurks all over this beautiful but testing hole.
Hole 6 – Par 4 -452 yards
If the water on the previous hole is intimidating then the huge expanse running down the entire right side of the 6th is simply terrifying! If bailing out to the left was an option then perhaps it would be less so but a group of large bunkers on the left put pay to that tactic. Hitting the fairway here is paramount as is an approach shot favouring the left. Mercifully it is not the end of the world if your approach shot misses left. Just avoid the water at all costs!
Hole 7 – Par 3 – 213 yards
The par 3 7th gives the golfer a bit of a respite following the testing 5th and 6th holes. A well struck long iron is required to hit the green where, as long as you are not putting from back to front, you should have an easy two putt for par. From the tee be sure to guard against missing left as the bunker on the right is a favourable location in comparisson with the heavy, punishing rough to the left of the green.
Hole 8 – Par 4 – 439 yards
The tee shot from the 8th can be deceptive to first timers on the Twenty Ten Course. Aim further left than you think as missing right will leave an awkward angle to the green from thick rough. A drive favouring the left side of the fairway is ideal, as is an approach shot towards the left half of the green. Anything to the right of the putting surface will leave an extremely difficult up and down so faders beware! This hole does represent a good chance to make a regulation par.
Hole 9 – Par 5 – 666 yards
A good drive up the left hand side of the fairway here is the preferred option as there are two large bunkers awaiting drives missing to the right. Only the longest hitters will have any chance of going for the green in two and even they can forget about it if the hole is being played into any kind of significant wind! Laying up then is the smart play and do so so safely you will need to select a club that will get your ball between bunkers about 160 yards from the green and a large bunker short and right of the putting surface. This hole gets more and more narrow towards the green so three accurate shots are required to have a shot at a regulation par or a one-putt birdie.
Hole 10 – Par 3 – 210 yards
The thought of a bacon bap and a bottle of beer awaiting you at the end of this par 3 may well be enough to distract you from the task in hand but dont be fooled by this holes appearance. The green offers few easy putts which will make bagging yourself a sandy save a tough task should you miss the green If you have your irons dialled in a shot left short of the pin will leave an easier birdie putt.
Hole 11 – Par 5 – 562 yards
As the shortest of the par 5s, the 11th represents a real birdie opportunity for the majority of players. An accurate drive is required in order to avoid water on both sides of the fairway but from then on all one must do is avoid the water on the left and a couple of deep greenside bunkers. Don’t take this hole too lightly though as shots that stray far enough off line can be severely punished!
Hole 12 – Par 4 – 458 yards
A brave tee shot is required here to leave the best possible angle to the green. Hugging the water that skirts the left side of the fairway is the ideal play from the tee but, as Vinnie Jones would say, this requires some serious minerals! Once safely in play this hole gets even tougher as, no matter where your drive ends up, you are required to carry the same vast lake that flanks the right hand side of the 6th in order to find the relatively small putting surface. To make things a little more complicated the green has been raised which the savy golfer will take as a sign to hit an extra club from the fairway in order to avoid rolling of the front which will leave a devilishly difficult up and down.
Hole 13 – Par 3 – 189 yards
While this par 3 can be a tough test when the wind is swirling, the shot from the tee is remarkably similar to the one you will have just faced from the 12th fairway. Again the green is slightly raised and it is not uncommon to be playing this hole into the wind. Clubbing up then, will be a shrewd move but be careful not to play too much club as a brilliantly placed bunker at the back of the green will gobble up anything sufficiently over-hit, leaving an intimidating bunker shot back towards the water.
Hole 14 – Par 4 – 413 yards
Although this is one of the shorter par 4s on the course it is easliy one of the hardest. The fairway snakes between two large water hazards meaving the golfer with a tough choice from the tee. Either lay up with an iron or take on the water hazard on the right. A drive of sufficient length and accuracy up the right is the ideal play. This will leave an easy approach but beware. Your approach shot must be pin high as under or over clubbing will leave an extremely difficult two-putt thanks to a severely undulating green.
Hole 15 – Par 4 – 377 yards
The 15th is an odd hole but a thoroughly enjoyable one nonetheless. Golfers have two options from the tee. Either play it safe by following the fairway around a copse of trees and then towards the green with the approach or simply smash it over the trees straight towards the green Only the longest hitters will actually carry the ball onto the elevated green but missing short is not the end of the world as a simple pitch shot to the green is all that will be left following a straight tee shot. This is a classic risk vs. reward hole that can just as easily yeild an unwanted double bogey as a much welcomed birdie.
Hole 16 – Par 4 – 508 yards
This lengthy par 4 marks the start of a tough stretch over the last three holes which bring you all the way back towards the clubhouse. A solid drive is a must in order to be able to hit the green with some control on the ball. The approach shot however, is the most difficult part of this hole thanks to elevation changes and a well protected green. Missing short is the only place where golfers will be left with a simple up and down as hole’s hillside location means the ground falls away to the right of the green. Walk off this green with a par and you will have done well!
Hole 17 – Par 3 – 211 yards
The last par 3 on the course plays along the line of the hillside towards a long, narrow green. Accuracy from tee to green will be vital in order to score at a hole that is heavily defended by deep bunkers. Anything off target to the right will be especially vulnerable with a collection of traps lying in wait.Club slection is also important as over or under clubbing can leave a long, testing approach putt.
Hole 18 – Par 5 – 613 yards
The par 5 18th is, in may people’s eyes, the signature hole on the Twenty Ten Course. The ability to go for the green in two is totally dependent on the wind and condition of the course. If the course is soft and the hole is into the wind forget it and play the hole as a three shot par 5. If the ground is dry and you avoid the bunkers on the left of the fairway you can hit a tee shot that takes off down the hill once it has landed, leaving longer hitter a managable yardage for going for the green. No matter where you are hitting your approach from though, club selection is vital as the approach must be played over water to the raised green on the pther side of the valley. With your golfing buddies and others watching from the clubhouse above the last few shots of your round on the Twenty Ten will give you a small taste of the Ryder Cup atmosphere that was prevalent back in 2010.
Although the Twenty Ten is among the finest and most enjoyable courses in Europe the sight of the clubhouse will be a welcome one. This course is a real challenge and can really take it out of you…even if you are sensible enough to take a buggy! The thought of a refreshing drink or two will also be a welcome one!
The Rafters Restaurant is the perfect place to refuel and reminisce after a day on the Twenty Ten.