28 February 2017

Paul McGinley and Thomas Bjorn delighted with Wentworth renovation

Ryder Cup captains Paul McGinley and Thomas Bjorn believe the wide-ranging overhaul of the West Course at Wentworth will be well-received by the players at this year's BMW PGA Championship.

Paul McGinley and Thomas Bjorn delighted with Wentworth renovation

Paul McGinley and Thomas Bjorn at Wentworth

The famous course has undergone a multi-million pound facelift led by Ernie Els' design company in partnership with European Golf Design, while McGinley and Bjorn collated the views of European Tour professionals on ideas to improve the layout.

The nine-month renovation is close to completion, and McGinley and Bjorn joined Wentworth's director of golf courses and grounds, Kenny Mackay, at European Tour HQ to get a first-hand look at the comprehensive changes.

All 18 greens have been re-turfed and have a sub-air system installed, while four greens (eighth, 11th, 14th and 16th) have been completely redesigned, with the third, fourth, fifth, 12th and 15th greens partially rebuilt.

The focus on returning the West Course to a layout closely resembling Harry Colt's original design has also seen huge alterations to the bunkering, with every bunker on the course being reconstructed while 29 traps have been removed.

McGinley is delighted with the changes and is confident the players will enjoy playing a "firm, fast golf course", and he is looking forward to seeing 2014 champion Rory McIlroy headlining a world-class field at this year's BMW PGA Championship, which starts on May 25.

"The players wanted to go back in the direction of the old Harry Colt design," said McGinley. "They wanted the contours on the greens to be softened, and the bunkering to be changed. I certainly couldn't see out of the bunkers before, and not many guys could. So those were the two big things we changed.

"We've also put in a sub-air system into the greens which will dry them out and get it back to a firm, fast golf course, which players have always loved playing in the past.

"It's going to be a stellar field for the BMW PGA Championship, with all the leading players on the European Tour, and with the new golf course it will be great for Wentworth, great for BMW and great for the European Tour, so I think we are going to have a terrific event this year."

New Ryder Cup captain Bjorn added: "There was certainly a feeling to get this golf course back to where it was. It will still be a really tough test, but we've taken some of the tough obstacles out which we didn't think Wentworth was all about.

"It is an old style course and it had probably been a little over-modernised, so we brought it to where we think it should be and back to the traditions of this golf course.

"We listened long and hard to the views of the Tour players. You have to when you have such a big event on a traditional golf course with so much history. The BMW PGA Championship is a fantastic event, one of the best in the world, and now there is a golf course here which is really worth playing, and which is right up there with the very high standard of the event."

Els, a Wentworth resident for many years, said: "It's been a real team effort. It's been hard work, but it's been a wonderful experience. I think the product you'll see this time will be something the players will really enjoy. The guys will have smiles on their faces again. Their bad shots will get punished, but not as badly as before.

"We've improved the greens and taken bunkers out, and restored holes to their former glory. Some holes won't even have bunkers on them anymore. The crowds will enjoy it and the players will too."

The reconstruction and sub-air system installation works at Wentworth were carried out by golf construction experts MJ Abbott.

Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter See our videos on You Tube Find us on LinkedIn