A famed golfing destination in the heart of Surrey’s Heathland, Wentworth was the vision of Walter George Tarrant, the son of a Portsmouth policeman, who employed Harry Colt to design two courses on his Wentworth estate during the 1920’s. Renowned internationally as the venue of the World Match Play Championship, the West Course is Wentworth’s star attraction and winds through the heavily wooded estate in a large loop with its tight fairways lined by tournament ready roughs and a gorgeous mix of pine, oak and birch.
Tough going out, the course is ideal for head to head golf as it steps up a gear from the 11th with the finishing holes played across more impressive undulation and the round culminating in consecutive par fives that tend to throw up as many eagles as bogeys. Although the short holes are far from Colt’s best, both the 2nd, with its signature Spanish Oak guarding the green, and the cross ravine 10th are very good, as is the stretch of golf through the tall pines from the 11th to the 15th.
The club prides itself on presentation and is always in great shape, though its choking rough areas do alter some of the design intent and the loss of much of its heather has left the course lacking the visual character of others on the Heathland. The less renowned East Course has an even more attractive mix of woods and heath and, despite being shorter and a little dated in parts, its par of 68 is still quite a challenge.
Wentworth is rightly famous as a superb tournament venue and a fine place to golf. If you think it is all there is in Surrey, however, you desperately need to sample the other charmers featured on this website.
In 2010 the West Course at Wentworth reopened after an expensive redesign program by Ernie Els Design was completed. Rather than restore lost Harry Colt features, and width, Els instead imposed his own style on the layout, with its unveiling at the 2010 European PGA causing a stir among the professional playing group. Many openly criticized the changes, which upset Els who said 'there is going to be criticism with any new design but I really wasn't expecting the backlash I got. I don't think anybody deserved it.' He added "If they had criticisms they could've handled it differently. That's the sad part of the week – a lot of the guys I've known for a long time came out and basically put the knife in. I don't really appreciate that."
Sadly Ernie's changes already need to be changed, with the 18th hole a disaster and Els also nominating a couple of others for reworking. While restoring the integrity of Colt's original design now seems a bridge too far, perhaps sober reflection will lead the club's owner to look at quality architects instead of famous 'designers'.