Ernie Els expressed pride and pleasure in the new-look West Course, an Ernie Els Design-led renovation project, after the layout received high praise throughout the 2017 BMW PGA Championship.
For Ernie there is a real sense of professional and personal fulfilment in bringing to a close the renovation of an historic course that has long held a special place in his heart. “It looks incredible,” said the four-time major champion. “This was our original design intent from the very beginning and we’re so pleased it has finally come to fruition; it’s a moment of great satisfaction for me and for the rest of the team. Big thanks to Jeremy Slessor at European Golf Design, who collaborated with us on this latest phase of works on the West Course, and also to our partners at the European Tour. We’re extremely happy and proud to see the course looking the way it does here this week and to hear the positive feedback from the players (see below) and the Club’s members. That really means a lot to us.”
Ernie went on to say: “Obviously a key focus of the renovation was improving the putting surfaces and the recent significant investment by the Club’s owners, Reignwood Group, has allowed us to create arguably the purest, most consistent putting surfaces in the country. In addition, we undertook a further review of the bunkers on the golf course. As a result, all bunkers have been redesigned and reconstructed, with 29 bunkers removed from play. We believe this helps more closely realign the course with Harry Colt’s original vision and, in fact, many of the bunkers are very much in the Colt style now.”
In summary, the key features of this Ernie Els Design renovation include:
- All 18 greens re-built and re-seeded with 007 creeping bentgrass, which was chosen after trialling 10 blends over a 12-month period at the Club.
- The course is the first in England to benefit from sub-air technology.
- A total of 29 bunkers taken out of play to reintroduce some of the original playing strategies and all the remaining bunkers redesigned.
Additional changes include:
- Greens at the 8th, 11th, 14th and 16th completely remodelled.
- Greens at the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 12th and 15th partially remodelled.
- New tees built on the 3rd, 4th and 18th.
- An upgraded irrigation system installed.
- Additional drainage added on the fairways.
- All pathways resurfaced.
- Landscaping enhanced throughout to give the course a more natural aesthetic.
Ernie Els Design’s senior design associate, Greg Letsche, is one of the most respected golf course architects in the business, having previously worked with Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus. Greg has been involved from day one on this extensive West Course renovation project and he, too, couldn’t disguise his delight at the finished product. “For Ernie and myself, the intention all along was to make sure the course was a fair and strategically sound test of golf, focused on shot values, where well-executed shots would be rewarded. We believe that is absolutely the case here now.”
Speaking also about the newly constructed greens, Greg added: “The new sub-air system is hugely significant as it allows us to monitor and control the various parameters that give a putting surface the optimum playing characteristics. Everything from the smoothness and pureness of the roll, to the moisture content and bounce levels, can be matched across all 18 greens so you can achieve extremely high levels of quality and consistency.”
Stephen Gibson, Chief Executive of Wentworth Club, was full of praise, too: “This is my tenth year at Wentworth and I have never seen the course looking so magnificent,” said Stephen. “The improvements made by Ernie and his team have transformed the course and I’m sure the European Tour players and our members will agree that the West Course is back where it belongs as one of the world’s great courses.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Chanchai Ruayrungruang, Chairman of Reignwood Group, said: “We are determined to make Wentworth the leading venue for Championship golf in Europe and the unveiling of the newly renovated West Course, which we believe to be one of the best courses in the world, is integral to this.”
What the players said…
“The greens are rolling nicely…they’ve done a terrific job getting the greens in this great shape.” – Henrik Stenson, 2016 Open Champion
“Here you now have a chance to set-up the course the way you want; if you want high rough or if you want softer greens, harder greens, whatever you want, and I think that’s fantastic in a golf course. I’ve played it three different ways now and I’ve always enjoyed it. What I wanted to do is play better against a better field and better, tougher courses and I view this as a very difficult course against a very tough field. So then this is very close to a Major in my mind.” – Alex Noren, 2017 BMW PGA Champion
“It’s nice to play a course where you have to use your brain. I think it’s hurting golf constantly going to courses that are 7,600 yards, where the caddies just send the players to the tee with a driver and then walk forwards. You don’t have to think about it too much and that’s a shame.” – Lee Westwood, all-time leading money winner on European Tour
“I think the changes have been very well received and the greens are as good a set of greens as I’ve seen for a newly laid surface. They are really rolling well and receiving a shot really well, too.” – Justin Rose, US Open & Olympic Champion
“I think the course is the best it’s even been. It’s in great condition; it’s a lot better aesthetically. It’s just playing really well.” – Ross Fisher, Ryder Cup player & former junior member at Wentworth Club
“The greens are absolutely perfect; every putt is so true.” – Chris Wood, 2016 BMW PGA Champion
For more information
Please contact the Ernie Els Design offices in Florida +1 561-625-8676 or visit the website: www.ernieels.com/design.