How the Ryder Cup Put Wales On Top

2010 Ryder Cup Graeme McDowell victory (Image: Celtic Manor)

Graeme McDowell celebrates the European victory at the 2010 Ryder Cup. (Image: Celtic Manor)

Golf fans will never forget the sight of Graeme McDowell’s arms thrust skyward in victory at the 2010 Ryder Cup. Celtic Manor and golf operators throughout Wales have been reaping the benefits of that thrilling moment ever since.

(Last updated November 2020.)

Golf marketers in Wales can still hardly believe their luck.

So thrilling was the 2010 Ryder Cup won by the European side at Celtic Manor that viewers around the world stayed glued to the action, soaking up every moment of the drama while being exposed to the attractions of a previously unfamiliar golf destination.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the first Ryder Cup ever hosted by Wales established the country as a golf destination ready to compete with Scotland and Ireland. In the years after the Ryder Cup but before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, approximately 200,000 foreign golfers visited annually, compared to about 30,000 in the years prior to the Ryder Cup.

Set on 809 hectares of ripe parkland in the Usk Valley, about 32 kilometres from Cardiff, Celtic Manor offers three hotels, including the signature 10-storey, twin-winged 330-room Resort Hotel. There are eight restaurants, tennis courts, walking trails, two spas, a treetop rope course, and fishing on the River Usk.

Celtic Manor 14th hole Ryder Cup Course (Image: Celtic Manor)

The 14th green at the Twenty Ten Course, a Ross McMurray design specifically built to host the Ryder Cup. (Image: Celtic Manor)

Celtic Manor’s billionaire owner, Sir Terry Matthews, was so eager to host the Ryder Cup that he proceeded to build the first course in history specifically designed to stage a three-day, 24-man event featuring the world’s most skilled golfers.

The result was the Twenty Ten Course, a 7,493-yard brute of a layout designed by Ross McMurray that plays around a series of lakes, features cavernous bunkers and gnarly rough, and offers risk-and-reward challenges with almost every swing of the club.

It’s a thrilling, though exhausting, experience not to be missed. A big part of the fun is making yourself at home in a memorabilia-filled clubhouse lined with lockers displaying the name plaques of the Ryder Cup players, and afterwards taking a drink on the balcony where Rory McIlroy sprayed champagne on the fans below.

Far more forgiving than the Twenty Ten Course are the property’s Montgomerie and Roman Road layouts.

Designed by Colin Montgomerie, the 2010 European Ryder Cup captain, the Montgomerie is a Scottish links-style layout featuring dramatic tee shots over valleys and thrilling downhill shots. Roman Road, meanwhile, is a widely admired classic design by Robert Trent Jones Sr. that twists through woodlands and jumps streams while offering views of the Severn Estuary. The course’s name was taken from the old Via Julia Roman highway that once ran through its fairways.

Matthews, who bought the property in 1980, enlisted the legendary Jones to build the Roman Road Course in the early 1990s to help raise Celtic Manor’s international profile. Even then his goal was to land the Ryder Cup, although Matthews couldn’t have imagined that the one he finally hosted would number among the most dramatic in the competition’s history.

In the end it all came down to the anchor match between Hunter Mahan and Graeme McDowell, who finally ended the suspense when his birdie putt dropped on the 16th hole.

Golf fans will never forget the sight of McDowell’s arms thrust skyward in victory and the long and champagne-soaked celebration that followed.

golf course (Image: Celtic Manor)

Celtic Manor sits on 809 hectares of ripe parkland in the Usk Valley. (Image: Celtic Manor)