Celtic Manor (Roman Road)
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.
The Roman Road, the oldest of the three courses on the estate dating back to 1995, was 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.
If you are playing and/or staying at Celtic Manor don't dismiss the Roman Road. It may well be it is not to the standard of the famed Twenty Ten course but there is enough interest throughout the round to make it worth adding an extra night stay onto your trip to play.
Read the review of Celtic Manor (Twenty Ten) here.