It is famed for its Twenty Ten course which recently staged the Ryder Cup, however, there are two other courses at this 5-star resort in South Wales.
Neither of these courses should be dismissed when booking a visit at this popular destination though.
I completed the playing of all three courses at the Celtic Manor Resort with an enjoyable round over the Twenty Ten course in October 2014.
Having seen the course, which opened in 2007, on television a number of times it pretty much delivered exactly what I was expecting. It’s a course set up for modern day championship golf with large bunkers and lots of water being the main obstacles to avoid. Some years ago it would have been called an ‘American’ style design but we now have a number of these types of courses in the UK.
Playing some of the holes, especially over the closing stretch on the higher part of the course, brought back memories of the 2010 Ryder Cup and it was amazing to be able to play the same holes as the super stars of both the USA and European teams. On arrival you are also allocated a locker in the clubhouse which was used by one of the players, mine was that of 2009 Open Champion Stewart Cink. A nice touch.
As you would expect the course is a stern test of golf and, although not my type of course personally, you must certainly have a wide array of shots in your arsenal to score well. The water comes into play on a number of occasions with the approach at the fifth and the drive along the lake at the sixth the two most memorable moments on the front nine. The shot into the 18th green, over a large pond and in the shadow of the clubhouse, is also a great one to finish your round in style.
There are a number of solid holes on the course, virtually everyone, although I couldn’t quite figure out the driveable 15th with its two-route option from the tee…. Despite driving the green!
Everything was in excellent condition out on the course; from the tees to the fairways to the greens and especially the aprons. The welcome and service, from arrival to departure, was outstanding…. as you would expect from a five-star resort!
The Roman Road, the oldest of the three courses on the estate dating back to 1995, was also pretty much what I was expecting. There were several enormous bunkers on both the fairways and around the greens. The putting surfaces were huge with some bold contouring and apart from a couple of tighter tree-lined holes you were pretty much free to wield your driver with semi-rough your likely punishment for a wayward shot. That said, many of the holes did favour one side of the fairway to make your approach from and the placement of the bunkers added an undercurrent of strategy.
The course was manicured perfectly with excellent tees, closely mown fairways and true greens. The ball seemed to sit up on top of the grass if you missed a green making chipping and pitching a lot easier than at some courses where the ball can nestle down.
At just under 6,500 yards the Roman Road course isn't a monster but it does require long hitting at times. With two par fives, a couple of long par fours and a 200+ yard par three in the first five holes it's not until the 6th and 7th where you can take a breather before two more long holes end the front nine.
Indeed the first half of the course plays 600 yards longer than the back nine. Most of the holes on the outward nine are formulaic and relatively flat with the exception of the S-shaped downhill par five fifth and uphill par four sixth, the later housing some pleasing fairway bunkering.
The inward nine may be more undulating but this results in a nice mixture of holes with the par three 11th, played through a tunnel of trees, and the par four 13th, played over a ravine, two of the better holes. The long walk from the 15th green to the 16th tee is forgiven when you play this beautiful hole that arches around a lake. The 17th is the third par three on the back nine and the shortest at just 142 yards whilst the final hole played to a green in front of the clubhouse is a good test.
Meanwhile, the Montgomerie course, named after Colin Montgomerie OBE who designed the course which also opened in the same year as the TwentyTen is of similar ilk to the Roman Road in both style and substance.
The walk is more undulating than the Roman Road and at times can be a little gruelling if you are not using a buggy but the quality of the actual holes is pleasing.
The best holes on the course are the downhill par five 3rd that has impressive views from the summit of the fairway whilst the next hole, a par three of 181 yards from the back tees, is also a superb hole. The next doesn't disappoint either before a run of solid holes takes you to the turn.
The 10th was my favourite hole on the course because it allows you to decide how much of the downhill dog-leg you risk taking on in order to give yourself a better and shorter shot to a green fronted by water.
A series of good holes complete the inward half with the par three 15th the best looking of the lot with a green cut into the hillside that falls away sharply to the left.
The 16th is also an impressive hole and just one of many drives from elevated tees to sweeping fairways. The 17th offers up the chance of a birdie as it is a driveable par four but the final hole should be respected and is a potential card-wrecker for those biting off a little more than they can chew!
If you are playing and/or staying at Celtic Manor don't dismiss the Roman Road or Montgomerie courses. It may well be they are not to the standard of the famed Twenty Ten course but there is enough interest throughout the rounds to make it worth adding an extra night stay onto your trip to play them.
Copt Heath is a very fine parkland golf course that requires precision, plotting and a deft touch around the slick greens.
The Blue is a mix of American-style design and traditional English parkland. It's an unusual combination which makes the most of the terrain available. It was designed by Simon Gidman and opened in 1994.