New-look West course at Wentworth opens
World’s finest prepare to take on the West
All eyes will be on Wentworth Club this week as the world’s leading golfers prepare to take on a dramatically re-modelled West Course.
As Wentworth Club welcomes one of the strongest ever fields assembled for the BMW PGA Championship, the Club’s new-look West Course will be on show for the first time to golf fans around the world, all eager to see the spectacular changes that have been made.
The course re-opened to club members in March 2010 following a £6.5 million project to establish the West as one of the world’s finest inland golf courses. Through the vision and ambition of Wentworth Club chairman Richard Caring and Ernie Els Design, the West Course has been renovated to present a new and exciting challenge for the world’s golfing elite.
Five of the world’s top ten golfers will tee off on the new-look West this week, as will three-time Major Champion Padraig Harrington, who has already delivered his seal of approval of the restored course. Commenting after a practice round on the West last month, Harrington said: “I’m very impressed with the changes that have been made and in particular I’m happy to see the way that the greens are now putting.”
Almost as soon as Paul Casey had holed the winning putt last year, Ernie Els and his team moved in to start a major upgrade of all eighteen greens. With The European Tour reaching an agreement to host the World Match Play at Finca Cortesin in southern Spain, Wentworth finally had a window of opportunity to embark on the changes.
However, it soon became clear to all at the Club that this was also a unique opportunity to create something truly special. Led by chairman Richard Caring, substantial commitment and investment was made to extend the restoration project throughout the course, enhancing the aesthetics of it whilst retaining the route-map of the course and creating some spectacular new features on the course - notably a 100 yard brook lining the front of the raised 18th green.
All 18 greens have been completely rebuilt to USGA specification with the latest underground drainage systems installed to ensure the greens perform to the highest standards. The greens’ surrounds were remodeled to give more shape, with colonial bent grass on the putting surfaces and rye grass surrounds. All bunkers were completely reconstructed and in some cases, made deeper and repositioned.
Wentworth Club CEO Julian Small said: “Once the decision to close down the West Course had been taken, this became a genuine once in a lifetime opportunity. We had the chance to expand the brief to fully restore and modernise the course, making the West ‘future proof’ for years to come. I believe we’ve come up with something which we believe will be a fantastic challenge in the future.”
Seven-time World Match Play champion Ernie Els, whose design team have been at the heart of the renovation process, is undoubtedly proud of the result. Els said: “It has been a privilege for me to be involved in the renovation and modernisation of the West Course, a process that we started in 2006.
“Everyone knows that Wentworth is a place that is very special to me and that the West Course has always been one of my favourite courses in the world. My personal view is that the changes we’ve made have enhanced this wonderful golf course in every conceivable way; aesthetically, strategically and perhaps most significantly in the quality of the playing surfaces, especially the greens, which will perform and putt as well as anything you’ll see on The European Tour.”
Of the spectacular finishing hole, Els said: “The 18th is the hole that has captured everyone’s attention during the last six months and understandably so. With the water in front of the green we’ve turned up the wick on the risk-reward aspect. Although undoubtedly a greater challenge, this green will still hold a properly flighted shot from 220-240 yards out. It’s still a fair hole. If you lay up, the shot into the green is a bit tougher than it was before. That’s only a good thing in my opinion and I can’t wait for the BMW PGA Championship. I think it’s going to be a great week.”
Wentworth Chairman Richard Caring added: “In years to come the West Course’s new 18th hole will I’m sure be the scene of much drama and excitement in professional tournaments. I think it is a very special and fitting finale to an iconic golf course.”
Speaking ahead of this week’s BMW PGA Championship, European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady paid tribute to the Club for their vision in transforming the West. He said: “The European Tour is fortunate to have such superb partners in Wentworth Club. This outstanding vision to fully update the West Course and the investment by Richard Caring and the Club will further enhance the standing and reputation of our flagship event.”
17 May 2010 Respond to this article