Ernie Els tries to save face as a course designer by redesigning his Wentworth redesign
Ernie Els probably wanted a mulligan after his recent redesign of Wentworth’s West Course. After being asked by owner Richard Caring to come in and make some wholesale changes to the famed Parkland course, the South African was bombarded with negative comments at this year’s BMW PGA Championship. The course that had held the event since 1954 had, in some players eyes, been ruined with an updated course design that didn’t mesh with the historic layout.
It got so bad, in fact, that Paul Casey started pressing for historic courses, like Wenworth, to be treated in the same fashion as historic buildings, whereby future parties could only come in and maintain, rather than tear down the interior and redesign the place. Casey wasn’t the only one, as countless players at the event bashed Els’ redesign to the point that Els started defending himself during the tournament. You know it’s never good when your peers start criticizing your work to the media, as opposed to saying it to your face.
The hole that received the most criticism was the par 5 18th hole, a layout that many deemed a ‘fantasy hole’ after playing it for a couple of days. While Caring took the heat for the hole — he and Els has a heated debate about the layout, and Caring won out in the end — it still placed a negative light on Els. Instead of going away quietly after the debacle earlier this year, Els decided to come back and give the layout another redesign.
Based on his comments, the course is supposed to be in much better shape — especially the 18th hole. Here’s some info on the redesign from National Club Golfer.
Ernie Els, who oversaw the changes but was against those made at the 18th, said: “To get this absolutely as we all wanted has required two bites at the cherry, but I think I speak for everyone in saying this ultimately is the best solution for this iconic finishing hole.”
The South African added: “I believe that in excess of 50 percent of players will take the new green on in two at next year’s BMW PGA Championship.”
Els and the design team have also placed a mound in between the first and second bunkers on the right of the hole and raised the right-hand side of the green.
Other changes to the West Course include the softening of the spine that runs through the 8th green, and a change in the type of sand used in the bunkers, for more consistency.
Whether these changes appease the players remains to be seen. If anything, at least Els had the balls to go back to Wentworth and make the necessary changes to return to the course to its original layout. Let’s hope the 18th gets a better reception than it did this year.
(h/t Geoff Shackelford)