Wentworth's 'Heart And Soul' Torn Out After Chinese Takeover

The Surrey club appears to be a completely different place since the takeover in 2014

Wentworth's 'Heart And Soul' Torn Out After Chinese Takeover
(Image credit: Getty Images)

An anonymous member has spoken to the Mail on Sunday, saying Wentworth's 'heart and soul' has been torn out of the club

Wentworth's 'Heart And Soul' Torn Out After Chinese Takeover

Comprising of three beautiful courses - the famous West Course, East Course and Edinburgh Course - plus a nine holer, the Surrey club has always been one of Britain’s most-prized golfing jewels.

It was a typical top-end British golf club, with a healthy membership and superb golfing facilities, however it appears to have changed dramatically since the Chinese company Reignwood Group took over in 2014.

The Reignwood Group, which is owned by Thai billionaire Chanchai Ruayrungruang, bought the club from English tycoon Richard Caring in 2014 for the sum of £135m.

Related: Wentworth finalises new membership structure

Initially, the owners sought to charge current members £100,000 to stay on but after strong, united opposition to this approach, the owners relented.

(Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

In April this year, the club changed its membership model from a semi-private club to "an invitation only, family-orientated, fully private members' club based on a debenture model", meaning potential members would need an 'in' if they wanted to join and would have to be willing to purchase a share in the club.

It's not just fees that are rising, the debt is on the way up as well.

Related: Brocket Hall owners threaten to cancel membership

The club made a pre-tax loss of £5.5m in 2016, up from £2.2m for the last nine months of 2015.

The Mail on Sunday has said that 30% of the membership has left. It is reported that a number of former Wentworth Club captains have withdrawn their association with the club as well.

Wentworth's 'Heart And Soul' Torn Out After Chinese Takeover

Ernie Els tees off the 1st on the West during the the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Related: Is this the future of golf club membership?

An anonymous member told the Mail on Sunday, ‘It is tragic. They’ve lost the majority of those who are long-standing members. These are people who have been here for 30 or 40 years and you don’t get those people back."

"Dr Chanchai and his team have torn the heart and soul out of the club. It used to be such a happy place, but when you take away the people who stay around socialising, you have a problem.

“There have been hundreds of harrowing letters from people who have been brought up and spent their lives here. The owners are ignoring us."

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV