Els Toughens Wentworth To Rein In Advance of Agronomy

I mean, technology. Well that was the word used in the headline of James Mossop's look Ernie Els's redo of Wentworth:

In winning six world match-play titles over the famed 'Burma Road' and as a member of the Wentworth Club he knows every yard of his favourite course. Over the years his admiration for the 18 holes created by legendary architect Harry Colt has grown.

Only the advance of technology with the modern ball flying further than ever from club faces designed by professors of ballistics has led to parts of Wentworth becoming cowed. Els saw it coming and when he made some suggestions to the club's owner, Richard Caring, and course superintendent, Chris Kennedy, he was snapped up as a consultant. Broadly, the course has been lengthened from 6,998 yards to 7.308 and 30 bunkers have been added.

Fans of Colt, who designed many wonderful courses, including Sunningdale, The Berkshire and Swinley Forest, may cry sacrilege at the thought of anyone interfering with the work of a man regarded as a genius of golf course design.

Or they might point out that it would just be a lot easier to change the ball.

Els, who will be playing this week and will be anxious to hear the views the top European players, says: "Harry Colt did an amazing job way back in the mid-1920s when he started work on this project. I want to make it clear from the outset that it was not our intention to change the character of the course. That would be a crime. There will be some people who maybe don't agree what we have done here but, trust me, doing nothing was not an option.

"The game faces some tough decisions. Equipment has got better, the ball is going further and the players are fitter and stronger. The fact is, the West Course was not playing as Harry Colt intended it. The changes address that.

"Part of the main focus was to reward the accurate hitter, especially off the tee, with extensive bunkering. That bunkering has been expertly executed in the rolled-face style of Harry Colt. They look fantastic."

And just to assure you he is a full-fledged player architect:

"Hopefully, Harry Colt is up there somewhere and looking down on us with a nod of approval," says Els.

I'm sure he's just thrilled.