Ryder Cup memories and their long-lasting legacy
The arrival of October is always a special time of year here at Celtic Manor as we celebrate the anniversary of one on the most memorable weeks in our history.
It’s hard to believe it is now seven years ago that we hosted an unforgettable Ryder Cup that was described as “the greatest ever” by no less a judge than Phil Weaver, the Chairman of the Professional Golfers’ Association.
A decade of building the course and facilities as well as planning for the influx of 50,000 spectators a day from all over the world was almost undone by the weather but, thanks to a superhuman effort from our greenkeeping team, assisted by their industry colleagues from across the UK, we managed to defy the elements and bring the match to the most thrilling conclusion.
What an amazing atmosphere there was throughout the four days but especially in the closing stages as it all came down to the final match with the scores level. Anyone who was there will never forget the roar that greeted Graeme McDowell’s crucial putt on the 16th green and the scenes of utter jubilation when he clinched victory for Europe on the next green.
We could not really have scripted it any better than that and the fact that the torrential rain had caused the match to overrun into Monday for the first time actually gave us and many of the event partners and sponsors an extra day to entertain our clients and build business relationships. Our “bonus day”, as Sir Terry Matthews called it!
The legacy of that Magic Monday is still very much in evidence here and, without a doubt, the Ryder Cup put both Celtic Manor and Wales on the map as a golfing destination.
Hardly a day passes without someone telling our golf team at the Twenty Ten Course that they were here in October 2010 and cannot wait to play the course where all the drama unfolded, or that they watched it on TV and have been looking forward all this time to see the holes for themselves.
We try to give all our visiting golfers a special experience in keeping with those special memories and they are given a tour of the clubhouse where the players had their team rooms, lingering on the many fantastic images we have of the action that took place. They also get the chance to change at the same lockers used by the likes of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods and we still have the name plaques of all the players and vice captains from 2010.
It all adds up to an experience that is more than just a round of golf and, even though few will be able to match the heroics of McDowell and his team-mates, they all relish the challenge of playing the same holes. The feedback that we receive tells us they also feel like they have been treated like a VIP player for the day, which is exactly how it should be.
People travel a long way from all corners of the UK and from all over the world to tread the same fairways as the Ryder Cup stars and it’s a unique selling point for us that we can count ourselves among a very select group of Ryder Cup venues.
Another USP is that we have not just the Twenty Ten but three championship courses in all and the quality and condition of the Roman Road and Montgomerie layouts means we can reach out to those golfers coming from far afield and offer them a choice of golf courses to play and the opportunity to stay overnight or for a longer golf break.
We know a lot of our golfers like coming in groups and playing mini “Ryder Cups” of their own so what better way to play a two or three day team tournament with and against your friends than over a different course each day at a Ryder Cup venue.
While we are building a new venue at ICC Wales to attract a different type of major event to Wales on a regular basis in the near future, golf is still a very important part of what we do here at Celtic Manor and the success of the Ryder Cup and the Team Wales approach that delivered it is something we are trying to replicate when we welcome the world to ICC Wales.
Here’s to many more successful international events here in Wales!