Byeong-hun An hails revamped Wentworth West course

Golf News

The 2015 PGA champ at Wentworth is fully behind the changes to the West course...

Former BMW champion Byeong-hun An reckons the revamped West course at Wentworth will be “more fun to play” when the European Tour’s flagship tournament returns next year.

The South Korean, who dominated the Surrey venue when he won the PGA Championship by six shots in 2015, has hailed the renovations and works under way in Virginia Water.

In the early summer all 18 greens on the course, along with the putting green, were re-seeded, while the 8th, 11th, 14th, 15th and 16th greens were fully redesigned.

The number of bunkers on the course were reduced from 88 to 65, as well as their height and depth altered, while tees on the 3rd, 10th and 18th were also rebuilt and modernised.

The bulk of the work has been completed with further ‘finessing’ taking place until the course is reopened.

It’s all part of plan to return to Harry Colt’s traditional vision for the course and is part of a £20 million investment in the complex.

An, who is a Wentworth ambassador, has visited the West to see the work and is fully behind the changes.

He said: “I couldn’t play it but I did look at a couple of holes. They have made some great changes. That’s pretty clear.

“On a lot of holes they have taken a lot of bunkers out – 20 bunkers out – and they have made the course more fun to play.”

Explaining the changes, which saw the greens re-seeded and remodelled in only six weeks, Wentworth’s director of golf courses and grounds, Kenny Mackay, revealed turf trials took place a year out to ensure the most appropriate grass was used.

He added: “We had a week for the members after the BMW and then we started a programme – six weeks of rebuilding, reseeding and re-grassing on the West. Last time, it was turf. This time we have gone for seed.

Wentworth

“We did a trial a year out, with 10 different creeping bent grasses on our nursery to see what performed best in our climate.

“We picked the best grass that performed best for us at Wentworth – not just one off the shelf.

“We did a lot of research behind the scenes a year before we started.

“All 19 greens (are done). We re-modelled five but we resurfaced all 19 in six weeks – including five rebuilds. In the weather we had, that has been a major achievement.

“We hit our schedules even with the record rainfall in June. We got 128mm in a month.

“The reason we picked June, July, August and September to build was because the monthly average was 15 to 25mm.

“It was a massive challenge but we had a lot of good people in the process. It’s amazing how you can get through.”

Wentworth continued to work with Ernie Els, along with European Golf Design, and Mackay said the professionals can expect faster and firmer greens when the PGA Championship returns.

“The SubAir will allow us to control the moisture,” he explained. “Even if we get some bad weather, we will be able to keep the surfaces firm.

“We will be more in control of that and we will be able to increase the pace and soften the greens. That will be what we use to make it difficult for the pros.

“The pace on the ball (is what) makes it trickier.”

An, who returned as defending champion last May when Chris Wood took top billing, said he always enjoys coming back to Wentworth.

Wentworth

He explained: “The course really suits me. There are a lot of bunkers out there but I had been putting the work in with my driver and I was able to carry most of them (when winning in 2014).

“They (Wentworth) support me and when I come here they take care of me really nicely.

“They have always had a great youth programme and support the junior players. That means a lot.

“It feels like home when I come back here. That’s why I come back. It’s a great place to be and it just feels special.”

 

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