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Rebellion at Wentworth as golfers flag up hike in membership fees

Published 31/01/2016

Jack Nicklaus seen playing at Wentworth during his heyday
Jack Nicklaus seen playing at Wentworth during his heyday

One of Britain's most prestigious golf clubs has been threatened with legal action over a massive hike in the cost of membership.

The Wentworth Residents Association says a plan by the smart Surrey club to demand they buy a newly introduce £100,000 debenture and pay annual fees doubled to £16,000 breaches long-standing legal deeds and trusts relating to the course.

The association says it is prepared to go to court with the Reignwood Group, Wentworth's Chinese owner, over the fees and a plan to force its 4,000 members to reapply for just 800 places, announced in October.

The WRA said it and Reignwood, which bought the exclusive club in September 2014, had have been negotiating over the past month but they have been unable to come to a satisfactory agreement.

WRA chairman Eric Leon said: "It is an absolute tragedy that the situation remains so antagonistic whereas a fair and reasonable solution could easily have been found.

"We have made proposals for a membership scheme that does not alienate the vast majority of existing resident members but the club appears to reject our principles outright.

"It has become plainly clear that the club lacks the support of many existing members - who are already leaving in their droves - and that Reignwood appears intent on clearing out the membership, restricting accessibility to the club even to many of its fellow residents and thereby changing the character of a great golfing institution.

"We will continue through every means to convince Reignwood to reconsider its actions."

A club spokesman told the Sunday Telegraph: "Wentworth Club has undertaken an extensive legal review of the proposed membership structure, together with various legal and professional advisers, including seeking the opinion of Queen's Counsel, which has confirmed that based on the available evidence it is able to proceed with the revised structure."

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