Wentworth’s West Course greens to be ready for PGA
Wentworth’s West Course is one of the most famous in the world but, in recent years, some European Tour golfers had complained about the state of its greens. The club’s Director of Golf Courses & Grounds, Kenny Mackay (pictured), explains the improvements they have been undertaken since last May
Chris Wood’s championship winning putt on the 18th green to win the PGA Championship last May was the last competitive shot played on Wentworth’s famous West Course before it closed its tees for the summer. Following his triumph, we at Wentworth had set ourselves the ambitious target of renovating and improving the course in time for the Englishman to defend his title this May.
Working in partnership with European Golf Design (EGD) and Ernie Els Design (EED), the greenkeeping team experienced one of its busiest seasons to date. We made great progress and phase one of the golf course programme was completed by the end of October.
The biggest challenge so far has undoubtedly been the greens. Any reputable golf course is judged by the quality of its putting surfaces and the West Course knows this more than most. While my team did a sterling job during last season’s championship, it is no secret that players on the European Tour have complained about Wentworth’s greens over the years.
In response, we have been meticulous in uncovering the very best putting surface for the conditions and playability of the course. Enlisting the help of expert Sports Turf International, we spent more than a year trialling ten blends before opting for Creeping Bent 007 grass. The West Course will be the first in the UK to seed with this grass and will benefit from its ability to cope and perform in the shade.
Beyond the re-seeding, which took place in an uncharacteristically wet June, we managed to completely rebuild the 8th, 11th, 14th, 15th and 16th greens, modify the other 14 and install a new irrigation system throughout. We are already seeing the results and, under the stewardship of 007 bentgrass consultant Dr Richard Hurley, the West Course team continues to manage the grow-in process.
More significantly, the West Course become the first in England to install a Sub Air system across all 18 putting surfaces. Even in the darkest, dampest depths of winter, we are able to control the moisture levels across the golf course and, during the PGA Championship, create the optimum conditions to test the Tour.
Pressure is part of the job when renovating such a high profile golf course and the greens will undoubtedly be under the greatest scrutiny when the cameras return in May. However I am excited to welcome the European Tour back to Wentworth and a new look West Course. The pros and the membership will recognise the time and investment spent on perfecting these putting surfaces, which will play better than ever.