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 It is reported that a number of former Wentworth Club captains have withdrawn their association with the club as well.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
Elliott Heath

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Honma TR20

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max

Irons: Honma TR20B

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x