After the hostile reaction to parts of the £6 million renovation of the famous West course, the Wentworth club has begun another programme of changes.
The new eighth and eighteenth green complexes, which were the main focus of criticism, both before and during the BMW PGA Championship in May, are being altered. The spine running through the eighth green is to be softened, according to Wentworth chief executive Julian Small, speaking on the club’s website, as is the degree of slope towards the extended water hazard that threatens the green.
The controversial eighteenth green was designed to create an exciting risk-reward finish to the round. It largely failed to achieve this, as few golfers were prepared to take it on in two, due to its small size, extreme elevation, and the surrounding hazards. “The green will be lowered by 50cm and will be made over 25 per cent bigger, thus increasing the size of the target and creating more areas in which we can place pin positions. The grassy hollow located between the first and second bunkers on the right will be removed and replaced with a mound. At the same time the far right-hand side of the green will be raised, so that it has a tendency to hold approach shots hit into that portion of the putting surface,” said Small. Signature designer Ernie Els, whose firm, under lead architect Greg Letsche, is again supervising the work, told the website that he believed the changes would lead to more than half the players taking the green on in two at next year’s PGA.
Work is also underway on the course’s bunkers. Small said that the inconsistency of the sand used after the reconstruction of last winter had caused playability problems, and that the steepness of some bunker faces was making it impossible to keep the sand in place. A rolling programme of work to these bunkers is ongoing.