Tuesday, August 30, 2016

 Wentworth Club owners back down from £100,00 demand from existing members

In what appears a victory for the moderately wealthy of the Surrey commuter belt, the new owners of Wentworth Club have backed down from asking existing members to pay a £100,000 debenture to stay at the golf club.
The decision earlier this year by the Reignwood Group, chaired by Dr Chanchai Ruayrungruang, one of China’s richest men, to impose the debenture – a type of loan – while increasing annual family membership fees from £8,388 to £16,000 had provoked outcry and sparked “The Battle of Wentworth”.
Members, including chat show host Sir Michael Parkinson, had argued that the club – which some had regarded as already pretty exclusive, given its location in an estate of 1,100 homes worth a total of £5.5 bn – would be turned into an enclave for the super-rich. 
Former club captain Michael Fleming had asked: “Is the ordinary man going to be priced out?”
But in a series of apparent concessions, the club said existing members would be spared the debenture, which would now cost £125,000 and apply only to those joining Wentworth Club.
Existing members were also told they would retain their current membership categories for life. This, the club hoped, would spare those with cheaper non-playing social or tennis and health club-only memberships a massive increase in fees.
The concessions will also allay fears of a plan to reduce the number of members from 4,000 to nearer 2,000 by offering only 900 debentures.
“This is a huge step in the right direction,” said a spokesman for the Wentworth Residents Association, many of whose members play at the club. “It is a proper recognition of the rights of existing members and residents.”
However, members said that total victory could not be declared because the club had still to announce what the new membership fees would be.
John Pyle, vice-chairman of the Wentworth Residents’ Association, said: “The club’s management has listened to our concerns, but this remains work-in-progress: critical elements still need to be finalised. 
"Wentworth deserves to be a world-class golf club and should retain that position, based on the strength of its current membership and those that love the club.”
Stephen Gibson, the club’s chief executive, said: “Today’s update, alongside the new membership offers and enhancements we announced,  clearly show our commitment to our existing members and estate residents, who are an integral part of the club’s past and our future.”



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