London, England: A little over 12 months after the official unveiling of the renovated West Course, an Ernie Els Design-led project, the world of golf has never been richer in its praise for the iconic course.
The four-time Major winner, World Golf Hall of Famer and chief architect of the long-term renovation and modernisation of this Harry Colt gem, was speaking ahead of this year’s BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour’s flagship tournament, which has long made its home at Wentworth Club.
“There has been added anticipation to come back for this year’s event,” said Ernie Els, who won a record seven World Match Play titles on Wentworth’s West Course and whose design company is a Full Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
“Obviously, this club and this golf course have always had a very special place in my heart, right back to the start of my career. But I must say, the sense of pride for us as architects of this renovation, seeing the course presented the way it is this week, makes it even more special than before.
“The ‘new’ look debuted last year. We’d heard it was in incredible shape and I just really wanted to see it for myself. It’s great to be back.”
Els added: “You know, this was the dream, this was the vision we had in our minds way back when Greg Letsche [Senior Design Associate at Ernie Els Design] and myself got the ball rolling on this renovation project. This was the blueprint, so to speak.
“The whole strategy, the core shot values, the construction and the look of the greens’ complexes, the bunkering, literally everything is now just as we envisaged it. And seriously, these must be the best putting surfaces in the country. They are incredible! It’s so nice to see and, of course, it’s great to hear the positive comments from the players this week and from the members who love it, too.”
Els also expressed thanks to Jeremy Slessor and his team at European Golf Design, and the advisory panel at the European Tour, for their input on the final phase of the renovation works.
There was praise, too, for Kenny Mackay, Director of Golf Courses & Grounds at Wentworth Club, and an acknowledgement of the invaluable role played by the Club’s owners, Reignwood Group.
“The owners, Dr Chanchai Ruayrungruang and his team, have given all of us their full commitment to help push this project to its successful conclusion and, just as importantly, the budget and the resources to enable Kenny and his team to maintain this wonderful golf course to the absolute highest standards,” said Els.
“And it shows everywhere you look. The conditioning of the playing surfaces, and the overall presentation, is as good as I’ve ever seen it.
“Right at the start I would say everyone’s goal was to make Wentworth the leading venue for championship golf in Europe and we believe that is what we’ve got here. It’s the perfect championship venue.”
Mackay said: “The whole team has worked very hard over the winter and in the build-up to this week. We’ve put our heart and soul into it, so it’s very gratifying for us to hear Ernie and a lot of the other top players giving the course such high praise.
“From day one, the aim has been to make improvements to enhance playability for all. This has been achieved through wide-ranging changes and installing industry-leading technology that allows us to control how the greens play. We’ve called on a vast amount of design and playing experience and we believe this is Wentworth’s best ever course.”