Sir Terry Matthews talks Ryder Cup legacy and what effect 2010 event had on Celtic Manor Resort
Sir Terry Matthews talks about what it's like staging a Ryder Cup and what effect 2010 had on Celtic Manor.
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH
Last Updated: 24/09/12 5:34pm
The 2012 Ryder Cup is almost upon us, and with such wet weather sweeping across the country, it's easy to cast your mind back two years at one of the most memorable matches in event history at Celtic Manor, but how has the venue progressed since?
Everybody who attended will never forget the 2012 Ryder Cup, with the match being such a thriller itself but also with the wonderful Welsh weather wreaking havoc on the timings and sending it into an extra day.
That Monday finish ensured the 2012 event was etched into sporting history though, and after the mud had cleared away was Celtic Manor able to thrive in the afterglow of hosting such a sporting spectacle? What can Medinah expect to gain from hosting the 2012 version?
We caught up with Celtic Manor Resort owner Sir Terry Matthews to find out...
Thanks for talking to us Sir Terry, firstly, did the Ryder Cup have an impact on visitors to Celtic Manor and have the numbers exploded in the wake of staging the event?
Indeed! Over one weekend, the Ryder Cup transformed the Celtic Manor from the UK's leading golf and business hotel into a global brand. Television coverage reached a billion eyeballs and we had the world's sporting media here for the week. What's more we had our bonus fourth day when the rain came down. We signed up for a tournament of three days and we got 33 per cent extra with a fourth day! How's that for a bonus for the sponsors!
The Ryder Cup brought us unprecedented exposure as a golf venue. Every golfer wants to add a Ryder Cup course to their CV. We saw our golf business grow by massive amounts before and after the Ryder Cup despite the recession which hit the industry in general badly.
Do you think it has now made Celtic Manor one of the top exclusive golf courses?
I don't think it's made us any more exclusive. If anything, it's made us more inclusive because we're seeing many more visitors from all over the world. Whereas before you probably had to know a bit about golf to know about the Celtic Manor - especially internationally - now every sports fan knows the Celtic Manor. Everywhere I go in business, from Shanghai to South America, everyone now knows you can spell Wales without a 'h' and they know about the Celtic Manor.
What did you learn from hosting the tournament?
We learned what a monster event the Ryder Cup is. The third biggest sporting event on the planet! You get told all that before, of course, but until the event actually comes to town, you don't realise just how big it is. We had to construct a small town around the Twenty Ten Course to accommodate all the hospitality pavilions and the media tents and the broadcast trucks and the exhibition units. It was quite a transformation. But in the end we learned we could cope with all that. We learned that we had the infrastructure to handle 50,000 people a day and to ship them in and out. And that gives us confidence to pitch for more big events in the future.
Has anyone from Medinah been in touch with regards to staging such a big event?
We've had conversations with the people at Medinah but they've had the benefit of hosting major championships down the years which are a pretty similar size. That's an advantage we never had. They'll be just fine.
What was the hardest thing to deal with when staging such a huge event (apart from the weather!)? Was it much more than just building the right golf course?
I think accommodating those 50,000 people and getting the transport in and out of the venue was the toughest part. We spent £25m on upgrading the golf course and facilities at Celtic Manor for the match and most of that was due to the number of people who wanted to watch the Ryder Cup. We had to build a golf course, a clubhouse, hospitality platforms, access roads and coach parks... we even had to build our own £2m bridge on the grounds so we could get the players and spectators to a new practice ground. That's a lot of heavy lifting for a one-week event!
Has the Ryder Cup left a legacy of more people playing golf in Wales?
The Welsh Government and the Welsh Golf Union certainly made a strong call for this when we won the bid to host the Ryder Cup. We were given a two per cent chance of beating Scotland during that tender process but Wales could argue that we had most to gain in developing the game. Scotland was already the Home of Golf with regular venues for the Open Championship but Wales has never had a major championship and it had never staged a Ryder Cup. They set up a whole new organisation, Golf Development Wales, the moment we won the bid and it's done a lot of great work bringing more young people into golf. At Celtic Manor, we have our own Principality Junior Wales Open which has kids as young as 10 playing with the best 18-year-olds in the country. So we're still out there searching for the next generation of Ryder Cup stars.
Golf is in the next Olympics, what can the UK do to give our team the best chance of success and inspire another generation?
UK golf is very strong at the top of the world game at the moment so probably the best thing we can do is leave our leading players alone! They're doing just fine. The way the Olympics grabbed hold of the entire nation this summer, I don't think we'll have any problems in terms of our golfers being motivated to go out and win Olympic gold.