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.
Initially, the owners sought to charge current members £100,000 to stay on but after strong, united opposition to this approach, the owners relented.
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.
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 It is reported that a number of former Wentworth Club captains have withdrawn their association with the club as well.
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.”