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Golfer’s Guide: Celtic Manor

By LLM Reporters on 18th March 2014

Golfer’s Guide: Celtic Manor. Sophie Horn takes us around the 2010 Ryder Cup course.

Like many other golfers I’m sure, Celtic Manor has been a place I have been dying to visit since watching the magic of the 2010 Ryder Cup. I was really hoping that I wasn’t about to be disappointed, and from the second I walked into the majestic lobby I knew that I wasn’t going to be.

Dragon-carved pillars, sumptuous seating areas, giant trees and columns all add to an imposing, yet still cool frontage that greets you as you take your first steps inside the Celtic Manor resort. It’s not just the golf history that grabs you as you step inside, but also the super-stylish décor and the facilities (including bars, restaurants and designer shops) which are superb.

Another fantastic facility on site is the Forum Spa, voted the Best UK Hotel Spa in 2011. Unsurprisingly therefore my time there was memorable. In fact I’d go beyond that and say it was amazing – a spa lounge area, a steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi, a 20m pool and an impressive-sized gym make it a real experience to savour.

There are six different dining options in the hotel and four eateries in the adjoining Manor House sister hotel. I was lucky enough to enjoy a meal in Terry M – The restaurant boasts 3 AA rosettes (more than any restaurant in Cardiff). I had a gorgeous 3 course meal, opting for the rather decadent lobster bisque and sea bass before bowing out with a delicious plum soufflé! Everything from the service to the ambience was simply superb.

After already having an outstanding couple of days away from the city, getting the chance to play the Twenty Ten course was well and truly the icing on the (Welsh) cake.

The first thing you notice when you make your way to the tee is the atmosphere. So often when you play a special course, you can be made to feel quite conscious and uncomfortable both in the clubhouse and on the course. Not at the Twenty Ten though, the feel of the experience was friendly and welcoming – a warm greeting before being shown to your own personalised locker.

I was chauffeured over to the first tee, never having to lift a finger in terms of carrying my golf clubs, they simply appeared on a cart on the tee.

After a quick stretch whilst getting into the Tiger mind set (not that type of mind set – the golf bit) a photographer was ready to take my picture next to the Ryder Cup sign for a souvenir to be collected from the clubhouse later.

With water hazards on half of the holes and no fewer than six signature holes, Twenty Ten represents a serious test of your golf game, and also plenty of risk and reward challenges. The course is quite American in style, with lots of water and humps surrounding the fairways. Two particular favourites are the Par 5 9th alongside the River Usk, and the Par 4 14th, where you must place your drive carefully before playing to a green across the water.

The last three holes have been cut into the lower slopes of the valley which make for a challenging last few yards to the bar, particularly at the 18th, where you have to decide whether to carry a pond in front of the green with your second shot or lay up and leave a tricky pitch from a downhill lie over water to a raised green. For the pro’s it’s a monster 500yard+ Par 4, although apparently there were players taking a wedge into the green with their second shot. If only…

Upon finishing the round my sticks were whisked off to be cleaned and I was handed customised bag tags before heading into the clubhouse – it’s these touches that really do make this place something very special.

Rafters (the restaurant) is also lovely, the food was superb and the service was of the highest quality. The comfy leather sofas and large crackling fire were a very welcome sight after the chilly wind on the closing stretch.

Would I go back? – In a heartbeat.

SOPHIE’S VIEW

The Twenty Ten course is simple a joy to play. It’s certainly one of the best courses in the UK can keep pace with even the best Europe has to offer. It really is a must visit for all UK golf fans.

The halfway house was also very welcoming, and I loved the fact that you could order your food/drink en route to the par 3 10th.

Everything is ready and waiting for you after holing out so no waiting around.

Course: 9/10

Facilities: 10/10

To find out more about Sophie’s travels visit her website at www.sophiehorn.com or follow her on Twitter @SophieHorn.