As the winner of the European Tour’s flagship event was decided by a thrilling sudden-death play off, it was the golf course as much as the matchplay which once again dominated the headlines.
Parts of Wentworth’s West Course were remodelled for a second time by Ernie Els following controversy at last year’s BMW PGA Championship. The changes to the 8th, 15th and 18th holes have drawn praise from a number of players including Rory McIlroy, who gave his approval on Twitter two days prior to the start of the tournament, saying: “Changes to the course are good. 18th is now more inviting if you want to go for the green in 2. Should make for an exciting finish.”
The construction work was carried out by leading golf course constructor MJ Abbott Limited, the firm responsible for the complete reconstruction of the iconic course prior to last year’s event.
The Els modernisation of the Harry Colt classic saw radical changes made to many of the greens and bunkers and the addition of a water hazard at the previously forgiving 18th. Some parts of the course were universally criticised by the world’s elite golfers last May, prompting Wentworth’s owner Richard Caring’s pledge to make the necessary changes to get it right.
Steve Briggs, Contracts Director at MJ Abbott explained the work that has taken place during the last four months of the year: “The 8th and 18th greens have been rebuilt to be more receptive. On the 8th, the putting surface and collar were enlarged by 30m² and the cross fall from right to left lessened. At the 18th the green and collar have increased in size by 180m² while the elevation of the green has been reduced so it sits close to the height of the sleeper walling with a flatter apron at the front. In addition, the previous hollow back right has been replaced with a mound to make the green far more receptive for players attempting to reach it in two.
“92 bunkers on the course and two practice bunkers have also been reworked to remove the existing sand and the bases have been lined with inverted turf to keep them consistent. To help hold the sand onto the steep bunker faces, some of them have been re-graded and a finer grade of sand added to the original sand to help hold it in place.”
Praise for the construction work came from BBC commentator Peter Alliss, who has himself won the event three times. He told Els: “The quality of the work done on this course with the construction of the greens is beautiful, I’ve never seen better. Having been involved in golf course design I know it is easy to make mistakes in construction leaving it untidy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better finished off job, for work that’s so new, it’s absolutely stunning.”
MJ Abbott www.mjabbott.co.uk
Ernie Els www.ernieels.com
Wentworth Club www.wentworthclub.com