European Golf Design is working alongside a team from Ernie Els Design on a restoration project at Wentworth’s West Course.
The firm was added to the project’s advisory team in June this year, as part of a club-wide effort to improve Wentworth’s golf offering by owners Reignwood Group.
Work is planned for all three of Wentworth’s courses – West, East and Edinburgh. Gary Player Design is leading the work on the Edinburgh course, while an architecture firm to lead enhancements to the East course is set to be announced in the near future.
GCA caught up with European Golf Design’s managing director Jeremy Slessor to discuss how the project is progressing and how his firm is working to meet the needs of European Tour players.
“Work started immediately after this year’s BMW PGA Championships in early June,” said Slessor. “Since then, five greens have been completely rebuilt, another four have been partially rebuilt, and the remaining nine and the practice green have been resurfaced.”
SubAir golf drainage systems are being installed on all 18 greens and the practice green, with all greens seeded by the end of July.
“All of the bunkers have been completely rebuilt, with the last ones finished in early September,” Slessor said. “Four sets of tees are being redone, with the last of those nearly complete. Going forward, the SubAir work will be completed, and some seedbed prep and seedbed work for fairway bunkers needs to be done.”
The schedule should see all work on the West Course, construction of which is being handled by MJ Abbott, finished by the end of October.
Slessor added that the collaboration with Ernie Els Design is going very well.
“We’re used to working with other players, but less used to working with other players that have their own design teams!” he said. “But so far so good. Ernie’s been very open to suggestions. He and design associate Greg Letsche have been easy to work with. It’s been a very good process.”
One of the reasons European Golf Design is involved in the project stems from a series of discussions between Reignwood Group and the European Tour ahead of the work starting.
“It’s no secret that European Tour players haven’t been universally happy with some of the changes that have been made to the West Course at Wentworth,” Slessor said. “If you ask 156 Tour players for their opinions on a particular course, you’ll tend to get 156 different answers. What’s different about Wentworth is that there really was a consensus about what it was they didn’t think was fair or appropriate.”
“On that basis, the discussions Reignwood Group was having with the European Tour led to us becoming involved, and the establishment of an advisory group consisting of Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn and David Jones, who are relaying the thoughts of the players and Tour executives,” Slessor explained. “It has become a collaboration, not only between ourselves, Ernie and Greg, but also with all of the Tour players through Paul, Thomas and David.”
The club is pleased with how the project is shaping up.
“We are delighted with the progress made so far on the West Course,” said Kenny Mackay, director of Golf Courses and Grounds and project lead at Wentworth Club. “The partnership with Ernie Els Design and European Golf Design has been a success and will ensure that the final product is a course that the Tour, professionals and members of Wentworth Club can be proud of.”