Wentworth members must pay

New owner demands

Charlie Lemay's picture
Wed, 21 Oct 2015

Wentworth's new owner will ask members to pay a £100,000 "debenture" share to secure their ongoing status, according to the Financial Times.

Chinese billionaire Dr Chanchai Ruayrungruang bought the club for £135m last year, and reportedly hopes to "cull" the current members, retaining only "ultra high net worth" individuals.

The move could see membership numbers fall from 3,000 to 250, according to the Mail on Sunday.

The Surrey club, which boasts three championship layouts including BMW PGA venue the West course, will also double the £8,000 annual subscription, and new members will have to pay a £125,000 share.

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Sir Bruce Forsyth, 87, has lived on the estate for 40 years, while Sir Michael Parkinson is another famous member of the prestigious club, which was founded in 1926.

“It's a cull and it saddens and angers me to see an iconic golf club treated in this way,” Parkinson told the Mail on Sunday.  

Club captain Michael Fleming said he would "expect a better understanding of what our new owners want and the future of the club”, while a member said the decision was “worse than anyone could have imagined”.

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Ruayrungruang, who is president of the Beijing-based Reignwood investment group, agreed to retain the “unique culture” of the historic club when he purchased Wentworth from British businessman Richard Caring.

He was not present at the meeting in which the decision was announced, with his absence being put down to Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to the UK.

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BBC golf commentator Peter Alliss, who is an honorary member, said the plan was “an extraordinary step”, adding “very few people have £100,000 to piddle away on their pleasures”.

A spokesman for the club said: “Wentworth club is continually looking at ways of improving its facilities and the experience of its members to retain its position as one of the world’s most prestigious golf and country clubs."

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