Well-heeled members of one of England’s most exclusive golf courses have accused its Chinese owners of making the traditional clubhouse look more like a ‘Premier Inn’.
It comes as the new general manager for Wentworth admitted that the renovation went too far in stripping the clubhouse of its ‘heritage’, The Daily Telegraph reports.
The ill-feeling between members and the club owners began shortly after Beijing-based billionaire Dr Chanchai Ruayrungruang bought Wentworth from restaurateur Richard Caring for £135million in 2014.
And in the latest indication of dissatisfaction, 20 members – including two recent club captains – are leaving Wentworth, which lies at the heart of the exclusive Wentworth Estate in Virginia Water, Surrey.
Well-heeled members of one of England’s most exclusive golf courses have accused its Chinese owners of making the traditional clubhouse (pictured) look more like a ‘Premier Inn’
A £13million refurbishment (pictured) led to furious members bemoaning a change in culture from what they described as having been ‘quintessentially British’
A £13million refurbishment led to furious members bemoaning a change in culture from what they described as having been ‘quintessentially British’.
Honours boards that listed winners of the PGA Championship, club trophy winners and past captains, and lined the clubhouse’s famous Burma Bar, were thrown out in the renovation.
Before and after photographs showed the wooden panels being replaced with unsightly metal boards.
The refurbishment also included the placing of a 5ft by 3ft portrait of Dr Chanchai in the club’s entrance hall.
Wentworth, one of England’s most exclusive golf courses, (pictured) lies at the heart of the exclusive Wentworth Estate in Virginia Water, Surrey
One insider complained to the publication that the place now looked ‘like a Premier Inn’.
Neil Coulson, who was appointed general manager earlier this month, has now confessed that the refurbishment went too far.
As such, photographs and paintings will be put back and new wooden boards will be added – with the originals believed to have been binned.
Beijing-based billionaire Dr Chanchai Ruayrungruang (pictured) bought Wentworth from restaurateur Richard Caring for £135million in 2014
Mr Coulson explained: ‘Since the renovation was done a lot was removed and we have a project to bring it back in.
‘The new honours boards were put in when the renovation was done. But the members want to see something more prominent, and that is what we are doing.
‘That is a project we have been focusing on. The members will be pleased we are bringing the heritage back into the clubhouse.’
But, nevertheless, he insisted the Chinese investment had improved the ‘experience’ for members.
He added that there would always be ‘disgruntled members’ but that they were ‘hoping to address that’.
One member, who spoke anonymously after the club’s owner threatened to expel members criticising the establishment, previously told the Mail on Sunday: ‘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.
‘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.’
Accounts due in September will show multimillion-pound losses, with the most recent in 2017 revealing a £5.5million annual loss.