wentworth-members-chinese-owner

 

First published in Golf Magic

The owners of Wentworth have brought in rules to prevent members criticising the club through the media, and are reducing their influence in club matters.

A new rule book states members at the Surrey club can now be thrown out if they post comments on social media, the internet or in any newspaper or magazine that the board view as “injurious to the character or interest of the club”.

The club defended the move, saying: “Member complaints to be handled through established internal channels, committees and consultative forums at the club, rather than through the media”.

Furthermore, members will no longer be able to elect the majority of seats on the club’s committee, as this has been replaced by a “membership panel”, appointed by the club's owner Dr Chanchai Ruayrungruang.

The famous golf club was bought by Chinese conglomerate Reignwood in 2014 for £135m, and they initially planned to reduce the 4,000 strong membership by more than 75% by charging members £100,000 to keep their playing rights.

Fierce opposition ended the initiative, but the club still raised membership fees by 75% to £13,500, and defended the hike saying there has been significant investment in the club. Membership has fallen by almost 40% in two years.

“The owners said they want a good relationship with us after last year’s fracas but their actions say something very different,” said an anonymous member. “Having tried to kick us out and failed, they are now just trying to shut us up."

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