Ernie Els has expressed pride and pleasure in the new-look West Course at Wentworth, an Ernie Els Design-led renovation that is staging this week's BMW PGA Championship.
For Els, who carded an opening round of one-under-par, there is a real sense of professional and personal fulfilment in bringing to a close the renovation of an historic course that has long held a special place in his heart.
After negotiating the design with some impressive golf, Els said: "It looks incredible. This is basically our original design vision come to fruition and it's a moment of great satisfaction for me and for the rest of the team. I can't tell you how happy it makes me feel to see the course looking the way it does here this week and to hear the positive feedback from the players and also from the club's members. That really means a lot to us.
"Obviously a key focus of the renovation was improving the putting surfaces and the recent significant investment by the club's owners, Reignwood Group, has allowed us to create arguably the purest, most consistent putting surfaces in the country.
"In addition, we undertook a further review of the bunkers on the golf course. As a result, all bunkers have been redesigned and reconstructed, with 29 bunkers removed from play. We believe this helps more closely realign the course with Harry Colt's original vision and, in fact, many of the bunkers are very much in the Colt style now."
Greg Letsche, Ernie Els Design's Senior Design Associate, has overseen from day one the extensive West Course renovation project. He said: "As Ernie has already said, what you see in the West Course today is basically our original design vision made real. For Ernie and myself, the intention all along was to make sure the course was a fair and strategically sound test of golf, focused on shot values, where well-executed shots would be rewarded. We believe that is absolutely the case here now."
Speaking about the newly constructed greens, Letsche added: "The new sub-air system is hugely significant as it allows us to monitor and control the various parameters that give a putting surface the optimum playing characteristics. Everything from the smoothness and pureness of the roll, to the moisture content and bounce levels, can be matched across all 18 greens so you can achieve extremely high levels of quality and consistency."
Stephen Gibson, Chief Executive of Wentworth Club, was full of praise. He said: "This is my 10th year at Wentworth and I have never seen the course looking so magnificent. The improvements made by Ernie and his team have transformed the course and I'm sure the European Tour players and our members will agree that the West Course is back to where it belongs as one of the world's great golf courses."
Dr Chanchai Ruayrungruang, Chairman of Reignwood Group, said: "We are determined to make Wentworth the leading venue for championship golf in Europe and the unveiling of the newly renovated West Course, which we believe to be one of the best golf courses in the world, is integral to this."
Ernie Els Design is a Full Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
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