Winner for Wales with new tournament course
High on a Hilltop overlooking the City of Newport, The Celtic Manor Resort has set the stage for the prestigious Wales Open - which for the first time is taking place on the Championship Roman Road Course. Significant investment has been made to ensure this new venue looks and plays at its best.
Wentwood Hills, home to the Wales Open for the last five years, is undergoing major works with more than £4 million being spent in preparation for the Ryder Cup in 2010.
Leading golf course constructor MJ Abbott has been involved in helping to create both championship courses.
"Roman Road will benefit from this higher profile," says Jim McKenzie, Director of Estates Management and Ryder Cup Courses Development. "If you take a risk you get a reward with this course.
"We have a good relationship with MJ Abbott and have had since we opened Roman Road and they extensively drained the fairways.
"Griffiths, a local civil engineering company, is also carrying out work on the site and Abbott put the icing on the cake with their expertise."
In 1997 MJ Abbott was responsible for extensive drainage works at Roman Road. Considerably shorter by several hundred yards than Wentwood Hills, the course is very undulating, with tighter greens.
As holes 14 and 17 were not at the desired length new tees have been built.
"This will not add significant length to the golf course," says Jim, "but at these particular holes golfers can opt to play with a three wood or a driver.
Simon Khan shot 61 on the Wentwood Hills course so the fact Roman Road is shorter is not a problem," he says.
Immediate investment meant over the winter period all of the bunkers were dug out, re-drained, re-shaped and re-sanded. The opportunity was also taken to re-shape fairways and thicken up the rough to raise the course's profile.
"We identified the bunkers needed re-sanding after 10 years," says Jim, "and more than £50,000 worth of sand has been used.
"Despite October and November being the wettest period of the winter the project has been extraordinarily successful," he says.
"After the event we will assess what improvements can be made for the Wales Open 2006," says Jim.
"This year the real premium will be on hitting and putting the ball on to the right part of the green. It is not good enough just to reach the green it has to be in the right part of it."
Set just above the Resort's five-star hotel and with the clubhouse providing a focal point, Roman Road is now in the spotlight for this top tournament. More than 50 staff from all the golf courses and garden staff will work tirelessly to ensure this year's Wales Open is voted another true winner.
MJ Abbott can be contacted on 01722 716361, fax: 01722 716828