Inside Wentworth as it prepares for the BMW PGA Championship 2019
PUBLISHED: 15:58 09 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:58 09 September 2019
This month the great and the good of the golfing world will descend on Wentworth, the exclusive members-only golf club in Virginia Water, for the BMW PGA Championships. Rebecca Younger went behind the scenes as it prepares for the prestigious tournament
With membership fees rumoured to be in the six-figure region and an incredible heritage with nearly a century of social and sporting history, it's little wonder Wentworth Club in Virginia Water is considered one of the most exclusive golf clubs in the world.
This month (19 September to 22 September) the members-only club will play host to the BMW PGA Championship. Usually held in May, the prestigious tournament's new position in the calendar avoids a scheduling conflict with the American PGA Championship, enabling more of the world's top golfers to take part.
The annual four-day tournament, which has taken place at Wentworth every year since 1984, gives golf fans a rare opportunity to view the three world-class, 18-hole courses, (the East Course, the West Course and the Edinburgh Course). But while the West Course will be the focus of the event, it's the goings on inside the iconic 1920's clubhouse that often seem to garner attention.
Despite appearing to have a little of the 'cloak and dagger' feel about it, Wentworth Club is far from the pretentious burrow you might expect. It's something new general manager, Neil Coulson, is keen to convey. "We want people who live in the area, members or not, to feel proud to have Wentworth on their doorstep," he says.
Founded in 1922, the golf club first opened its doors in 1924 under the ownership of Walter George Tarrant. Similar to Tarrant's St George's Hill estate in Weybridge, he made it a golf club, with luxury housing around the edge of the East Course and then, the West Course - both of which were originally designed by the legendary golf course architect Harry Colt in the early 1920s. Meanwhile, the Edinburgh Course, designed by Gary Player, John Jacobs and Bernard Gallacher, was originally going to be named the South Course but was changed in honour of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, who opened the course in 1990.
In 2016 the iconic West Course underwent an extensive £5 million renovation, overseen by Wentworth estate resident and former number world one golfer Ernie Els, which included the re-seeding of all 18 greens with creeping 007 bent grass and the installation of England's first Sub Air system, which allows the grounds team to control moisture levels, regardless of weather conditions.
Last year the clubhouse also had an overhaul - the result of a significant (and somewhat controversial) £13m investment from owners Reignwood, the group that has owned the property since 2014. The club boasts two bars, three restaurants and two private dining rooms all led by a team of 25 on-site chefs (the club also plays host to Michelin-star guest chefs for special occasions); a state-of-the-art gym, swimming pool and tennis centre (with no less than 13 tennis courts) and a wellness spa offering a Bamford and Natura Bissé treatments, as well as a menu of aesthetic beauty treatments. A team of therapists including a nutritionist, DNA therapist, acupuncturist, podiatrist and physiotherapist is also on hand.
There's plenty for the kids to do too with regular cinema nights and a pool party at the 1920s outdoor pool every Friday in summer. Members can also enjoy the facilities at its London property Ten Trinity Square with its Château Latour private club.
Everything from the floors to the ceilings and walls has been updated into a series of well thought out contemporary spaces which, while luxurious, feel much like a home-from-home, one that manages to remain true to its well-sewn heritage. Wentworth's Hall of Fame houses its vast collection of historical memorabilia including clubs donated by players over the years, which provide a show-stopping feature as you first enter the clubhouse, while a famous painting of the Ryder Cup - the brainchild of Samuel Ryder and his fellow players following a match at Wentworth in 1926 - hangs proudly in the club lounge.
While its members-only ethos generally keeps the goings on at Wentworth under wraps, along with the BMW PGA Championships this month there are a number of other public events held at the club throughout the year including the annual fireworks night, which this year is being held on 2 November.
As part of a new charity collaboration with the European Tour Foundation and The Black Heart Foundation called 'Impact, Driving for Change', The Wentworth Foundation also provides a number of young people from the local community with the opportunity to develop their skills in tennis and golf and has hosted a number of public fundraising events including a Family Cricket Day and a charity ball in June and a special BMW PGA Gala Dinner featuring Sir Rod Stewart is planned for 14 September.
Eager to maintain its reputation as one of the world's best golf clubs, there's little doubt Wentworth will continue to make history for years to come.
BMW PGA Championship, 19-22 September with a celebrity pro-am day on 18 September. Tickets cost from £10 here.
Luxury travel experts EFR Travel will host their inaugural Luxury Travel Show in the Wentworth Ball Room on 3 November from 10am to 4pm. Visitors are invited to join the two EFR leisure brands, Luxury Worldwide Collection and Elegant Golf Resorts, together with their top hotel and destination partners for a free day of total immersion in all things travel. Pop in for an hour or stay for the whole day.
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