Ryder Cup host Terry Matthews barely plays golf

The man who brought the Ryder Cup to the land of his birth

hasn’t played more than a dozen rounds of golf in his life.

”Mostly because it takes four hours to go round. And this

place,” Welsh billionaire Sir Terry Matthews said with a sweep of

his arm, ”would take me a month or better.”

The Twenty Ten course, one of three on the grounds of the Celtic

Manor Resort that Matthews began work on nearly 30 years ago, is a

state-of-the-art layout with an old soul. Located just a 10-minute

drive from the Roman ruins at Careleon, the Twenty Ten has set a

standard that future Ryder Cup hosts will struggle to match.

Matthews, who made his fortune in the electronics business, had

renowned architect Robert Trent Jones Sr., design the course and

then brought in the European Tour’s design team to look after the

details. From the intricate drainage system underground to the

steeply sculpted hillsides that afford viewers the same panorama

whether they’re standing alongside the fairway or dining in a

corporate hospitality tent, no detail went unexamined.

”We started with a clean sheet of paper. At the last Ryder Cup

at Valhalla, they had 49 parking spaces for buses. We’ve got 140

and we’re sitting between the main arteries to two of the largest

cities in the United Kingdom, so people can come in here just ahead

of tee time and leave almost as soon as it ends.

”And yet,” he added, ”because we’re sitting in a valley, you

can’t even pick up the road noise.”

Matthews estimated he spent an additional $50 million preparing

the facility for the matches, including construction of a 100-meter

(330-foot) suspension bridge across the River Usk so players can

reach the practice area.

”That was really not the smartest use of funds,” he laughed.

”So while not everything was a business decision through and

through, make no mistake – that’s what’s driving just about

everything. …

”It’s about the brand. If I go to Beijing or Delhi, Sydney,

Singapore or Johannesburg, they all know about the Ryder Cup. It’s

one of the most important sporting events on the planet. And

because of that, people now know about Celtic Manor.”