After a blazing hot start to July with Wimbledon well underway, sporting excitement at the Celtic Manor Resort reached fever-level on the weekend thanks to their Celebrity Cup golf tournament.
The star-studded event saw the likes of football’s leading man Gareth Bale, singer Ronan Keating and Rugby legend Sir Gareth Edwards represent their home countries (England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales) in a riveting weekend of competitive sport.
The annual event sees thousands of spectators crowd on to the famous golf course to cheer on their favourite stars and enjoy all the Resort’s offerings.
Thom Evans (Rugby and Strictly star) approaching the putting green.
Such offerings included a Kid’s area, Get Into Golf zone, live music and an open-air champagne bar.
If you read my recent overview of the 2015 Simec Polo at the Manor, you’ll be familiar with the Beetle Juice van and pop-up food marquee that proved very popular with the crowd.
With temperatures and spirits high on Saturday, a refreshing mojito was the perfect thirst quencher to enjoy an exhilarating day of golf.
The first morning’s round of golf between England and Scotland, and then Wales and Ireland, saw the Welsh team (captained by Rob Brydon) take an early lead – much to the delight of the home crowd.
Sir Gareth Edwards’s steel-eyed determination & fantastic golf-skills was a great attribute to Wales’ early success.
Rob Brydon brought brilliant comedy value to the competition, and like all the celebrities attending, stopped for autographs and selfies between play.
The afternoon’s audience was wowed by Zoe Hardman’s (Team England) impressive tee shot on the first hole against Ireland. Her fellow teammates included popular TV hosts Ben Shepherd and Vernon Kay.
Wales’ lead proved not to be a runaway – backed by the muscle power of Rory Lawson and the Evans brothers, Thom and Max, Scotland closed the gap with just 1/2 a point separating the top three teams by the end of play on day one.
Saturday’s fun however didn’t stop there, in the evening the Resort hosted a fabulous Gala dinner that raised over £50,000 for the tournament’s charity, The Caron Keating foundation.
On Sunday, the penultimate third round saw team Wales defeat England, meaning they were one step closer to victory with a final gripping game to come against Team Scotland.
Alan Hansen, Kenny Dalglish and Gordon Strachan all represented Scotland at the Celebrity Cup in 2013 and won! It seemed a second win for them was now a real possibility.
Team Ireland’s Ronan Keating, together with the likes of Keith Duffy (Captain), Shane Bryne and TV Presenter Brian Ormond, teared up the turf in a terrific race for third place against England.
After overcoming some frustrating off-target shots and a midday downpour, the English team eventually clinched third position.
Rugby star Mike Tindall playing for Team England.
The competition between Wales and Scotland was strong with Gordon Strachan (Scotland’s Football Manager) on great form by hole 5.
By this point a large crowd of spectators appeared completely gripped and followed the competition closely for the final few holes.
Rugby’s Rory Lawson taking a putt on hole 6 for Team Scotland.
By the seventh tee, the Welsh team looked very contemplative – could they finally win the Celebrity Cup for Wales?
As Team Wales stepped onto the final hole, it was Gethin Jones and Sir Gareth Edwards who sealed the team’s victory with an on-target putt that sent the silent crowd into a frenzy.
Left to Right: Gareth Bale, Andrew Howard, Rob Brydon, Gethin Jones, Sir Gareth Edwards and Philip Glenister.
The weekend was a fantastic success, and I’d have to agree with Chief Executive Ian Edwards that the event does “bring new audiences to golf”.
As a kid I had an invested interest in the sport that got lost somewhere in my teens. The weekend was a great reminder of how engaging golf is to watch, and it was so good to see all ages, both male and female, completely immersed by all the action too!
If you attended the golf, let me know on Twitter or in the comment section below what you made of the whole experience.
For those of you who missed out, do you feel inspired to swing by and give it a go or attend next year?
Thanks to The Celtic Manor Resort and PR team for inviting me to this event. All opinions are my own.