Consider this the new clubhouse leader in re-hiring-an-architect-to-fix-the-mess-he-made, a category previously dominated by Tom Fazio, the Jones brothers and Pete Dye. New Wentworth owner Dr. Chanchai Ruayrungruang announced he has commissioned Ernie Els to restore Harry Colt's Wentworth West course. That's the annual site of the BMW Championship, recently renovated to almost universal disdain by the Els firm and the Wentworth's prior ownership. But at least Ernie handled it well.
Maybe a restoration mindset will get it right this time?
While we all love the Big Easy, I'm not sure he is the Colt aficionado needed to undo the mess that's been made over the last two decades.
Charlie Lemay notes that the announcement does not mention the membership culling reported earlier this week but does mention that the other two courses at Wentworth will also be renovated.
The Surrey club will also invest heavily in its other Championship courses - the East and the Edinburgh - but no mention was made of the reported £80,000 "debenture" share that is expected to be asked of members by new owner Dr Chanchai Ruayrungruang.
The full release:
Wentworth Club announces multi-million pound investment to become the world’s finest private golf and country club
Surrey, UK: Wentworth Club has announced its commitment to invest heavily to significantly enhance and improve its three championship courses, facilities and service quality. Under the leadership of Chief Executive Stephen Gibson, the Club will embark on an extensive upgrade of the facilities in 2016.
Stephen Gibson said, “Wentworth Club has a long history of golfing excellence. Since the Club opened in 1924 it has been a pioneering market leader in golf. History has been, and continues to be, made here. Over the past nine decades the Club has become synonymous with the world’s most prestigious championships, played by the world’s best golfers.
“The original vision for Wentworth, by the pioneer George Tarrant, was to set new standards for both a golf course and a residential family community. Today, over 90 years later, our announced commitment to invest in this British institution of sport enables us to build on our prestigious heritage and lay the foundations of the future success of the Club. All of the improvements will ensure a club of exceptional quality and will set unparalleled standards on and off the course. We are committed to investing significant sums to fulfil our vision and improve the facilities throughout the Club.”
The focus on investment comes after a period of consultation and extensive review undertaken by Wentworth Club’s Executive Team and owners Reignwood Group. Reignwood Group’s significant investment in London – through the Ten Trinity Square project and, most recently, its support of the London Symphony Orchestra – was recently commended by Her Majesty the Queen, and marks the ever-strengthening business and cultural partnerships between China and the UK. Earlier this year, Reignwood Group was awarded the Chinese Investment in UK award by The 48 Group Club, which honours responsible investors in the UK.
A vital part of the investment programme will see a major renovation of the West Course, carried out in association with Ernie Els Design. The improvements have been endorsed by Chief Executive of the European Tour, Keith Pelley, and will reinforce the West Course’s position as one of the world’s top golf courses.
Wentworth Club also plans to update both the Edinburgh and East Courses, again working with world-renowned golf course designers. The East Course will be restored to its original Harry Colt design. For the Edinburgh Course, Wentworth’s vision is to create a world-class golf course and state-of-the-art practice facility.
Together, these golf course improvements at Wentworth Club support Reignwood Group’s ambition to increase the competitiveness and quality of UK golf and country clubs on the global stage.
Further, as part of the commitment to providing an outstanding experience and service across all areas of the Club, the investment programme will include a total refurbishment of both the main Clubhouse and the Tennis & Health Club facilities.
The plans for wide-ranging improvements to the Club go together with a new membership structure to take effect from 1st April 2017. The current membership structure will be replaced with a family-based membership.