Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What's it all about, Donald?

Report: Trump meets controversial 

Wentworth owners in New York

Donald Trump, shown at the 2016 WGC-Cadillac Championship
Donald Trump, shown at the 2016 WGC-Cadillac Championship ( Associated Press )
Donald Trump is known partially for his vast golf holdings, and though he hasn't been linked before to the famous Wentworth Golf Club, he's now made an appearance in the club's evolving controversy.
According to London's Telegraph, Trump met recently in his Trump Tower headquarters in New York with Wentworth's owners, who bought the club in 2014 through their China-based company Reignwood Group. Chanchai Ruayrungruang, Reignwood's chairman, and his daughter (and heiress) Woraphanit were in the meeting with Trump. As the Telegraph noted, the purpose of the meeting and what came out of it are both unclear.
In addition to the get together at Trump's headquarters, Woraphanit took a photo with the presidential candidate.
While the clarity in this connection is weak, the timing is interesting, as Reignwood has been embroiled in a controversy with Wentworth's members.
The owners originally told the members that they will have to pay a debenture of $155,000 as well as a doubled annual subscription fee for a total increase of $167,000 in order to remain part of the club. Reignwood also wishes to reduce membership at the club, which annually hosts the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship on its West Course, from several thousand to something around 800.
The members, though, have been fiercely resistant to Reignwood's proposed changes. More than 90 percent originally opposed the price hikes, and the members have pondered legal action. Reignwood's modifications to the new membership structure have been met with equal derision from the members.
The Wentworth Residents Association (WRA) summed up their thoughts on the alterations in a press release in February.
“We are astounded that the Club appears to continue to reject the very basic and reasonable concerns from residents with regards to the proposed new so-called 'debenture' scheme and we entirely reject the minor alterations offered as nothing more than continuing to tinker around the edges," WRA Vice Chairman John Pyle said in the release.
 "The new owner, Reignwood, is simply not listening to its neighbors who are being entirely alienated from the Club."
On the other side, Reignwood has reasoned that the increases will go toward the $32 million the company has pledged to spend to upgrade the club.
In a statement, Reignwood argued that there has been sizable support for their proposed changes: “There are a significant number of existing members who have expressed an interest in the new membership structure.”
The battle doesn't appear to be coming to a conclusion any time soon. And, for now, Trump has put himself at least tangentially in the picture.



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