Ma­jor in­vest­ment is now pro­pel­ling Went­worth into be­com­ing the pre­mier pri­vate golf and coun­try club in the world

Exclusively British - - CONTENTS - Words | Sa­man­tha Ruther­ford

AS BIRTH­PLACE OF THE FA­MOUS Ry­der Cup, there are few lo­ca­tions more syn­ony­mous with Bri­tish golf than Went­worth Club. Its al­ready im­pres­sive her­itage is fur­ther en­forced when you learn that Win­ston Churchill built a bomb shel­ter un­der what is now the mem­bers’ car park dur­ing World War II as his place of re­treat. Went­worth Club proudly con­tin­ues to serve as a place of re­treat – of a more re­lax­ing and op­u­lent va­ri­ety – for to­day’s lead­ers of in­dus­try, busi­ness, and pol­i­tics, along­side lovers of golf and luxury liv­ing. When Reign­wood Group bought the Club two years ago, it was re­ported that Went­worth was fac­ing a dis­grun­tled group of res­i­dents and mem­bers, who be­moaned the rise in fees. How­ever, af­ter rid­ing the storm, Went­worth’s fu­ture is now brighter than ever. Own­ers Reign­wood have com­mit­ted £20 mil­lion to im­prove fa­cil­i­ties across the Club, from the three Cham­pi­onship golf cour­ses to the Club­house, Ten­nis & Health club, and fine din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences. As Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Stephen Gib­son re­marks, am­bi­tions at the Club are high, “The tar­get is to trans­form Went­worth into the world’s pre­mier pri­vate golf and coun­try club, while re­tain­ing its grand and im­pres­sive her­itage.” “The ini­tial £20 mil­lion from the Reign­wood Group is more than the to­tal in­vest­ment over the past ten years com­bined. And not only will mem­bers ben­e­fit from wide-rang­ing im­prove­ments at Went­worth, they will also have ex­clu­sive ac­cess to Ten Trin­ity Square pri­vate mem­bers’ club.” Oc­cu­py­ing a mag­nif­i­cent site in the heart of the City of Lon­don, and for­merly HQ for the Port of Lon­don Author­ity, the Ten Trin­ity Square build­ing is also owned by Reign­wood. The pri­vate club will pro­vide mem­bers with a rich pro­gramme of cul­tural and culi­nary events, from ex­clu­sive per­for­mances to tast­ings of part­ner wine, Château La­tour. Form­ing part of the com­pany’s vi­sion of a full city­coun­try ex­pe­ri­ence, ben­e­fits for the Sur­rey stock­bro­ker belt are clear. “When Ten Trin­ity Square pri­vate mem­bers’ club opens, it will be one of the most ex­cit­ing venues in Lon­don and it is our job to en­sure that Went­worth re­flects that qual­ity in ev­ery pos­si­ble way.” That work be­gan af­ter English­man Chris Wood sank the win­ning putt at this year’s BMW PGA Cham­pi­onship, a Euro­pean Tour event held at Went­worth Club for over 30 years. De­scribed by Gib­son as “the jewel in Went­worth’s crown”, the fa­mous West Course was first in line

for a makeover. De­spite its her­itage in the game, ques­tions over the West Course have been raised in re­cent years. This fact is recog­nised by Di­rec­tor of Golf Cour­ses & Grounds, Kenny Mackay. Un­pre­dictable weather con­di­tions dur­ing the an­nual BMW PGA Cham­pi­onship pose a chal­lenge for the Went­worth team, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to the greens. Mackay’s re­sponse to the crit­ics has been metic­u­lous. “We hired the Sports Turf Re­search In­sti­tute to help us find the turf best suited to the cli­mate and con­di­tions at Went­worth. Ten dif­fer­ent species of grass were tested over a year-long pe­riod be­fore we set­tled on the 007 creep­ing bent strain.” It is these mi­nor de­tails that sep­a­rate the good cour­ses from the great, although this is not the most sig­nif­i­cant devel­op­ment on the West. For the first time on an English golf course, state-of-the-art Subair sys­tems have been in­stalled across all 18 greens, rep­re­sent­ing a £1 mil­lion in­vest­ment. These act as vac­u­ums un­derneath the greens that give Mackay’s team com­plete con­trol over the play­ing sur­face. Part­ner­ships form a vi­tal part of the Went­worth strat­egy and the Euro­pean Tour rep­re­sents one of the Club’s most im­por­tant and long-stand­ing part­ners. Re­tain­ing the con­nec­tion, Mackay’s team has worked with Euro­pean Golf De­sign and con­sulted key fig­ures in the game, in­clud­ing Thomas Bjørn and Paul Mcgin­ley, to en­sure that the high­est ex­pec­ta­tions are met on the West Course project. With Went­worth Es­tate res­i­dent, Ernie Els, also on the ad­vi­sory board, it is a for­mi­da­ble team. When the West Course re-opens its tees this Spring, it will be for the first con­test in a newly an­nounced Rolex Se­ries, with a prize purse of at least $7 mil­lion, ri­valling those tra­di­tion­ally more de­sir­able tour­na­ments across the pond. And, with leg­end of the game Gary Player lined up to re­model the Ed­in­burgh Course, Went­worth’s rep­u­ta­tion as an iconic golf­ing venue is as­sured. Striv­ing for per­fec­tion stretches far beyond the golf cour­ses and Gib­son wants to raise the bar, cre­at­ing a truly unique coun­try club ex­pe­ri­ence for Went­worth mem­bers. “We are look­ing at what the Club was at its ab­so­lute peak in the Twen­ties, re­viv­ing some of its rich her­itage but adding a de­gree of moder­nity across the board.” Help­ing to achieve this is Bri­tish de­sign agency Thorp De­sign, tasked with re­fur­bish­ing the Club­house in­te­rior to re­flect the sig­na­ture castel­lated ex­te­rior. Work will ex­tend to the ten­nis and health fa­cil­i­ties, the cen­tre of Reign­wood’s new fam­ily fo­cus. Fine din­ing has also formed an im­por­tant part of the tra­di­tional Went­worth ex­pe­ri­ence and its re­mod­elled res­tau­rant will bring the best of Bri­tish, serv­ing lo­cally sourced in­gre­di­ents to its mem­bers through­out the day. Chang­ing the face of a revered Bri­tish brand is a chal­lenge at the best of times and this venue has ex­pe­ri­enced it more than most. But whether it’s putting for par on the ninth or sip­ping a scotch on the nine­teenth, the Went­worth ex­pe­ri­ence is mov­ing into a new era. »

“When TEN TRIN­ITY SQUARE pri­vate mem­bers’ club opens, it will be one of the MOST EX­CIT­ING venues in Lon­don and it is our job to en­sure that WENT­WORTH re­flects that QUAL­ITY in ev­ery pos­si­ble way.”

IMAGES top-left to bot­tom right: Went­worth Cock­tail Bar, Went­worth In­door pool, Went­worth West Course, Went­worth ex­te­rior, and the in­te­ri­ors in­side Ten Trin­ity Square

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