Rater’s Notebook: The Twenty Ten Course
Celtic Manor Resort – The Twenty Ten Course
Coldra Woods, The Usk Valley
Newport, South Wales
U.K. NP18 1HQ
1. Ease and intimacy of routing: 5
Not a self-explanatory walk, with lots of turnarounds for the pond holes (Nos. 6-14) and an inexcusable walk just to get to the 15th and back. The walk in from the 16th tee to the 18th green overlooking the entire valley is dramatic.
2. Quality of feature shaping: 8
Greenside features and bunkers generally fit in well, though too many tees seem like bulked platforms.
3. Natural setting and overall land plan: 7
Great long views, but proximity to the river is a mere seduction. The sense of place is enhanced by old cottages and the occasional ruin dotting the site.
4. Interest of greens and surrounds: 6
Well-done, uncomplicated, not heavily bedecked or tiered bentgrass/Poa annua surfaces. U.S. team take note: the speed will be less than at Valhalla in 2008, though perhaps not as deliberately sluggish as at Ireland’s K Club in 2006.
5. Variety and memorability of par 3s: 4
All call for mid-length irons when played from the proper tees and all play (slightly) downhill. The best of them is the Gleneagles-like seventh, 213 yards to a raised peanut of a putting surface, one that falls off all around. More variance of distance (a short one and a long one) among the five par 3s would endow more character.
6. Variety and memorability of par 4s: 7
Really emphasizes good position driving, with well-defined landing areas on water holes (Nos. 5, 6, 12 and 14) and two demanding longer holes into the prevailing wind (Nos. 4 and 16).
7. Variety and memorability of par 5s: 5
Nothing complicated or memorable on the first three par 5s. Eleventh hole is a lost opportunity; green could have been suspended over a pond to make the approach interesting. Only real drama here is on the 18th, with its amped-up green and the all-or-nothing (second or third) shot from a roly-poly fairway.
8. Basic conditioning: 9
Very impressive, with extensive drainage work on bunkers to ensure consistency, though they might be fluffed to create uncertain lies – which would not help the U.S. team. If weather stays dry (always an uncertainty in that region) the fairways, cut to slightly more than one-third of an inch and extensively topdressed with pure sand, could run fast and effectively shrink the playing width of landing areas.
9. Landscape and tree management: 10
Beautifully open, with occasional copses along creeks and ravines.
10. Walk in the park test: 6
Expansive views, a good natural stroll at the outset and at the end, but interior circuit feels kaleidoscopic.
The course is rated No. 19 on the Golfweek’s Best Modern Courses in Great Britain and Ireland. It’s close to really good, with each hole interesting, but something doesn’t add up.