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Legendary Celtic Manor golf course still family-friendly

As the concierge cheerfully packed our bags into the car and preparedto wave us farewell, a friend telephoned and asked: “You still at thatgolf hotel in Wales? What’s it like?”

As the concierge cheerfully packed our bags into the car and prepared to wave us farewell, a friend telephoned and asked: “You still at that golf hotel in Wales? What’s it like?”

Frankly, it was a tough question. How do you describe the Celtic Manor, the venue for this October’s Ryder Cup, the greatest tournament in world golf ?

“Epic” was the one word reply I gave.

That probably best sums this place up.

The sheer scale of what billionaire owner Sir Terry Matthews, a telecommunications tycoon, has achieved in this corner of South Wales is awesome.

He bought the maternity hospital in which he was born and has created two hotels linked together by a network of underground passageways carved into the hillside of the Usk Valley.

The Celtic Manor complex now boasts 400 bedrooms, five restaurants, two health clubs, two spas, three championship golf courses, a golf academy, a giant exhibition hall and a convention centre all set in 1,400 acres of countryside.

But best of all it also offers Nicola, a professional golf coach with the patience of a saint.

As Tiger Woods and company battle it out on the immaculate Twenty Ten course in front of 50,000 golf fans this fall and a worldwide Ryder Cup TV audience of hundreds of millions, Nicola and her fellow coaches will still be offering easy to follow advice for those who barely know one end of a golf club from another in the resort’s state-of-the art golf academy.

Within ten minutes of Nicola starting her family lesson, five people for one hour for just $40, we were all hooked. My very rusty swing was soon better than it had ever been, and one day, when the Ryder Cup crowds have long gone, I know I’ll return to Celtic Manor.

It gave my family a fabulously relaxing three-night break — and the gift of a love of golf for life.

 
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