The Welsh Open at Celtic Manor
By Dave Saltman
Three years ago, Celtic Manor launched the Welsh Open and is fast establishing itself as one of the best-known courses in Europe. The Wentwood Hills course has some stunning views over the Usk valley and the River Wye. The 72 par course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr; a course with an American style complementing the superb rolling Welsh countryside.
During the day I managed to have a brief chat with the Director of Golf and Courses Management, Jim McKenzie. I managed to have a longer chat with him this week, to ask him how it all went. Jim oversees the management of all three eighteen-hole courses as well as the driving range and landscaped areas.
Last year we had heavy rain throughout the Open and had to reduce the number of holes played by half, at one stage this year we felt that the same thing may happen again due to the inclement weather, so we were delighted that we managed to get 72 holes played in the end.
The preparation for the Open was pretty much more of the same work that we normally implement. In fact we spent the most time organising the fencing off of car parks and putting down temporary walkways etc.
We're expected to get the courses ready as part of our daily routine anyway so the pressure came with the additional work associated with hosting a large event.
The only real changes to the course was a reduction in cutting heights of the greens 2.5mm, the tees down to 9mm and the fairways down to 12mm.
Obviously we can't sustain such low heights of cut, but for a four day competition at this level, we can afford to make the greens as slick as possible.
We will be hosting the Welsh Open every year for the next ten years, but Celtic Manor will host the Ryder Cup in 2010. We are building a number of new holes, seven in total, which will be added to our existing holes 4-12. That leaves two other holes, three and thirteen, which we are re-designing.
The new course will be tried and tested by players in future Welsh Opens, before we're comfortable for the new course to be used for the Ryder Cup".