- Chinese investors are trying to force members to pay £100,000 ($145,000).
- The members are taking legal action against Reignwood, the Chinese conglomerate who now own the club.
Two months ago we looked at the prospect of a member’s rebellion when Wentworth’s new owners proposed some villainous changes. They effectively stormed the clubhouse, grabbed every member by the ankles and attempted to vigorously shake them for every penny they had.
Wentworth is home to 4,000 members and has three 18-hole golf courses. The club also holds one of the European Tour’s flagship events, the annual BMW PGA Championship, as well as playing host to the Ryder Cup.
The new owners are proposing to slash membership to 800 and plan on preventing non-members from playing the course. They also want to raise annual membership from £8,000 to £16,000, bad yes, but a typical Wentworth member could probably afford that. Next, they’re demanding a £100,000 payment to recoup the money they spent buying the club, now that is outrageous.
What did the members do? Well being British they put on the kettle and wrote an angry letter.
“The proposed membership structure will fundamentally change the nature and character of the club and the Wentworth estate and is unacceptable. It must cease,” states the members’ letter.
The letter continues: “The club will, if the proposed membership structure is implemented, become the preserve of a small number of extremely high net worth individuals and lose its role at the heart of the vibrant community of the Wentworth estate.”
“Reignwood hasn’t listened and is simply trying to ride roughshod over the Wentworth community,” added Nigel Moss, who is leading the campaign against the changes. Surprised he finds the time to comment with all the flower arranging.
Jokes aside, what more can they do? Getting pernickity is all they have left. Fortunately the new owners have seriously underestimated the resources of the disgruntled members, who have now banded together and hired a litigation practice to fight their corner.
The law firm claims the reforms breach a 50-year-old trust document, said to guarantee the character of the club, writes the Guardian. The firm will also argue that Reignwood’s ‘exclusive membership’ practices are in breach of Chinese law, which recently prohibited party members from joining ‘selective’ golf clubs.
Hopefully Chanchai Ruayrungruang – the Thai billionaire who now owns Wentworth – will get the kick up the arse he really needs. The man is threatening to ruin one of Britain’s great golf courses, he wants to prevent us from having the opportunity to play and this can’t be allowed to happen.