Wentworth issues extraordinary rulebook to its members

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire June 15, 2017 14:55

Members of one of the world’s most famous golf clubs have been told they could be expelled from their club if they publicly criticise it or its owner.

Wentworth in Surrey, host of the BMW PGA Championship, was acquired in 2014 by Reignwood, a Chinese conglomerate owned by the Thai billionaire Chanchai Ruayrungruang.

It then received significant media interest over a proposal to massively increase the amounts members had to pay to remain at the club, although last year this was modified. However, fees have since risen from £8,000 to £13,500 per year. Membership is said to have declined by 40 per cent in the past two years.

Now Reignwood has issued a rulebook that states that anyone who makes comments ‘injurious to the character or interest of the club’ on social media, the internet or to a newspaper or magazine could have their membership rescinded. Grievances can only be aired in private, it states.

Wentworth defended the new rulebook and said members were welcome to make complaints internally.

A spokesman said: “One rule has been amended to include express reference to current forms of media; as before the club wishes for member complaints to be handled through the established internal channels, committees and consultative forums at the club, rather than through the media.

“This rule is in common with equivalent rules at other private members’ clubs.”

Wentworth was established in 1926 on land once owned by Lady Anne Fitzroy, sister of the Duke of Wellington.

Reignwood bought the club from the restaurateur Richard Caring for £135 million and is in the process of investing £20 million in the golf courses, clubhouse, spa and fine dining facilities to turn it into ‘the world’s premier golf and country club’. A source close to the club said that figure represented ‘more than the total amount invested in Wentworth over the past 10 years combined’.

 

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire June 15, 2017 14:55
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