Imagine Golf Blogs

Wentworth's West Course

The home of this week's BMW PGA Championship

Posted May 26, 2011 by Chris White

The West Course was redeveloped by Ernie Els and completed last year

When Harry Colt first set to work on creating the West Course at Wentworth, I don’t think even he could have imagined the sheer quality the course would have, both in terms of aesthetic beauty and the level of performance needed to win.

Ahead of this year’s BMW PGA Championship, we look in detail at the famous Surrey-based course.

Fairways twist their way through the woodland towards undulating greens that prove tricky for even the best in the world. The time came, back in 2005, for a renovation project to keep up with the modern player and their equipment, so Wentworth enlisted the expertise of seven-time World Matchplay champion Ernie Els.

The South African’s ideas included lengthening a number of holes to make them more of a challenge to the elite players, and extensive re-bunkering. Whilst retaining the character of Wentworth’s West Course, Els and the designers worked on refining Colt’s theory, rather than overhauling it, bringing it into the 21st century.

In 2010, the final stage of renovations were completed, involving the reconstruction of 17 of the 18 holes on the course, bringing them up to the required levels as set out by the USGA. Bunkers around the greens were also modified, or removed, with new bunkers positioned in more “in play” areas of the hole.

South African Els said, “I honestly feel that we’ve succeeded in making a fantastic course even better. I hope Harry Colt is looking down on us with a huge nod of approval.”

It wasn’t all good news for Wentworth last year, however, as current world number one Lee Westwood was highly critical of the changes that Els and the course designers had made, particularly regarding the 18th.

Westwood said, “I was a big fan of the old 18th. People like the excitement of birdies. The new brook is going to make it very difficult to do that.”

Ross Fisher was also critical, saying “You almost feel sorry for the spectators because they want to see us going for the green in two and making threes, not making sixes and sevens.”

Whether you’re a fan of the changes or not, is down to personal opinion. Players will always have different views on whether the changes are beneficial or detrimental. As soon as they have a few good rounds, however, I’m sure those opinions will change.

Wentworth Fact File:

Opened: 1926
Architect: Harry Colt (modernised/refined between 2005 & 2010 by Ernie Els)
Par: 73
Length: 7,308 yards
Course Record: 62, Robert Karlsson (shot at round 3 of the BMW PGA Championship 2010)
Key tournaments: HSBC Matchplay, 1964 – 2007: BMW PGA Championship, 1984 – present day: Ryder Cup, 1953: Canada Cup 1956

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