The Celtic Manor Resort in Wales is making progress with over £4m worth of improvements to accommodate the Ryder Cup. Nine new holes are being built alongside nine existing Wentwood Hills holes to create a new 18-hole facility.
Jim McKenzie, Director of Estates Management and Ryder Cup Courses Development, says that creating a more level course will allow the club to cater for over 50,000 visitors expected for the Ryder Cup. "Most of the players and caddies play 36 holes a day and the course as it stood was very physically testing," he says. "With 150 players, a large crowd and four games in the first two days there would be logistical problems."
MJ Abbott is constructing the course, which is being shaped by Bob Harrington of Robert Trent Jones II. The project began in April 2005 and is now 75 per cent complete. "Holes two to five have been completely finished and grassed, and green one has also been grassed," says McKenzie. "The remaining four holes are at various stages of earth work."
In order to minimise course closure, grass was taken from the nine undulating holes on the existing Wentwood Hills course and used to re-turf the new greens. An additional workshop facility will be ready by early summer 2007, and a park and ride facility is being created for the Ryder Cup, when private cars will not be allowed on site. Three new hospitality areas will hold 8,000 people.
"We hope to have everything ready by the end of May," says McKenzie. "By 2010 when we host the Ryder Cup, we will have held four more Wales Opens on the new layout, which allows us time to fine tune the course."
This article first appeared in issue 4 of Golf Course Architecture, published in April 2006.