After an extensive and sympathetic program of renovation led by Ernie Els Design, the multi-million pound revamp of Wentworth’s iconic West Course is nearing completion.
The latest phase of works, which began the week after Chris Wood won the 2016 BMW PGA Championship, was led by Ernie Els Design in collaboration with renowned consultants European Golf Design. The two parties also worked closely with an advisory team, which included Thomas Bjørn, Paul McGinley and David Jones, representing the views of the Tour players, and Wentworth’s Director of Golf Courses & Grounds, Kenny Mackay. The comprehensive changes to the West Course, home to the BMW PGA Championship since 1984, focused on the greens, greens’ complexes and bunkering.
“The guys have been working flat-out there for the past nine months,” commented Ernie Els, “and the results of this collaborative endeavour are impressive to see. The key objective was significantly improving the putting surfaces. All 18 greens were stripped of the old turf and re-seeded with a new creeping bent, which improves the appearance and playability of the putting surfaces. Many were either rebuilt or partially rebuilt and, crucially, a new sub-air system has been installed on all 18 greens to help make them play firmer and faster. New irrigation and drainage was also introduced.
“In addition, we undertook another review of all 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, whilst also being mindful of the demands of the modern game – always a delicate balancing act. All in all, the completion of this project is great news for Wentworth, for BMW and the European Tour, and obviously for the players and the fans, too.”
Thomas Bjørn also believes the European Tour’s leading players will appreciate the changes when they get the chance to see them for themselves at May’s BMW PGA Championship. “There was certainly a feeling to get this golf course back to where it was,” said the Dane. “It will still be a really tough test, but we’ve taken some of the tough obstacles out which we didn’t think Wentworth was all about. It is an old style course and we brought it to where we think it should be and back to the traditions of this golf course. We listened long and hard to the views of the Tour players. You have to when you have such a big event on a traditional golf course with so much history. The BMW PGA Championship is a fantastic event, one of the best in the world, and now there is a golf course here which is really worth playing, and which is right up there with the very high standard of the event.”
Meanwhile, Paul McGinley said: “The players wanted to go back in the direction of the old Harry Colt design. They wanted the contours on the greens to be softened, and the bunkering to be changed. I certainly couldn’t see out of the bunkers before, and not many guys could. So those were the two big things we changed.”
Jeremy Slessor, Managing Director of European Golf Design, added: “The feedback from the Tour players over the last few years was so consistent about what needed to happen. Working with Ernie Els and his design team, and working with the advisory group of Thomas, Paul and David Jones, we were able to come up with a cohesive plan which will give the members and the Tour players a much more honest test of golf.”
To watch a video presentation on the completion of the West Course renovation, please click here.