I’ve spent the last hour or so thinking about the 2010 Ryder Cup. A little odd when this year’s competition hasn’t even got underway you might think. The divergence in my train of thought happened because I was given the chance to interview Sir Terry Matthews – Wales’ first billionaire and the owner of The Celtic Manor Resort, host to the 2010 Ryder Cup.
Sir Terry has travelled to this Ryder Cup, and the seven before, collecting information and knowledge with a view to insuring Celtic Manor puts on as good a show as possible in two years time.
“Over the last eight Cups, we’ve learned a great deal.” He says. “From each one we’ve been to we’ve picked up on numerous details from logistics to course set-up.”
In terms of the course Sir Terry is happy with how the 2010 at Celtic Manor is shaping up, “The advantage we had was that we were starting from scratch.” He says. “If the course is already there, you can only work with what you have, but we’ve been able to design everything very carefully and specifically with the Ryder Cup in mind.”
“Take the last three holes for example. The natural banking along the side of those holes will allow up to 50,000 people to watch.” He says. “And on top of that hill there’s a huge space for corporate hospitality and sponsors. These are all things we took into consideration prior to construction.”
“After this year’s Wales Open we had a number of very positive comments from different parties. Padraig Harrington was among those who had some quite specific praise for the course which has been very useful and encouraging.”
Sir Terry is confident that Celtic Manor is an ideal venue for an event of the Ryder Cup’s magnitude, “Having the M4 right on the doorstep, it’s an extremely easy place to get to. Within an hour you can be in Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham or Reading.” He says. “We have 400 bedrooms on site but there will be no problem in accommodating everyone involved in, and spectating at, the event in the immediate surrounding area. We also plan to build two large coach parks beside the final holes so people can get away easily after the matches have finished.”
Clearly a huge amount has been done at Celtic Manor over the last few years but there is still more to come. The current practice area will be the site of the tented village in 2010 and a new practice ground will be built on the other side of the River Usk. A 320 foot long bridge will be built over the river to access it. “It’s a significant project.” Sir Terry says.
Back to this week and Sir Terry is clear in what he wants from the result, “We need it to be tight.” He says. “For everyone involved it’s important that the contest goes down to the wire.” He shares the concern of many that the US side still lacks the team spirit necessary in this competition. “It was noticeable at the gala dinner last night that the European team was announced in alphabetical order whereas the Americans were announced in order of their ranking.” He says. “It seems strange in a team event to single out who are your best and worst players.”
I think pretty much everyone here agrees with that sentiment. Let’s just hope the Americans pull together but the Europeans can come out narrowly on top.