Courses & TravelSeptember 15, 2010

Q&A: Sir Terry Matthews, Owner Of Celtic Manor

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Some locals were against change and any form of growth to the Newport area, which is 40 minutes from Cardiff. Some wondered: Why make changes to train stops and roads for a one-off event? Resistance to change is nothing new, and entrepreneurs like Matthews, who look at one-offs as one massive opportunity for long-terms success, face that sort of adversity on a regular basis.

Without identifying myself as a writer, I asked a few employees what it's like to work for Matthews. Their summarized review is that he is not only the richest man in Wales but he's also the hardest working. One employee told me that Matthews is the type of owner of a five-star resort who isn't afraid to get down on his hands and knees to help fix one of the revolving doors at the entrance. Not unlike Mike Keiser, the owner of Bandon Dunes, Matthews likes to mingle with his people; he asks questions and is open to comments or suggestions on how to make things better.

After my trip I had the opportunity to speak to Matthews, who was born at the original Manor House at Celtic Manor, and had a modest start to life. He's not a golfer. ("It takes four hours to play and that's a hell of a long time," he explained.) I wanted to find out why he's in the golf business, his motives for getting the Ryder Cup, how he dealt with his local critics and to hear about his close relationship with Robert Trent Jones Sr., who convinced Matthews to buy the land that became the Twenty Ten course. (Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed the nine original holes in 1999; European Golf Design built the more recent nine in 2007.)

Here's a link to our conversation.

--Matty G.

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