Ernie Els thinks the West Course at Wentworth should be easier. May 22 2012

Ernie Els thinks the West Course at Wentworth was too hard, and unfair, he has redesigned it over the last twelve months to make it easier. He is now predicting that the winning score will be in the double digits at the BMW PGA Championship this week. Els said; “The scoring is going to be better I think 14, 16 under is going to be the winning score again. Hopefully we will have more smiling faces from the players this year.” Ernie Els  (Getty Images)

Ernie Els (Getty Images)

Among the changes is the 12th hole which has reverted back to a par 5, measuring 531 yards. A bank on the approach to the 15th hole has been flattened, and there is now a fringe which has been allowed to grow on the right of the 17th to slow any errant shots, which normally would have rolled down the slope. Personally speaking I thought that in golf, errant shots deserved to be punished. Ernie spoke about the changes to the 12th;

“The green was designed for a par five. It’s quite a severe green.”

Ernie was of the opinion that the bank on 15, as you approached the green over a bunker was “unfair” for players going in with a long iron and required a flatter area so the ball could pitch and stay on.

Changes to the 18th include removable of the big tree and the bunker on the right hand side, along with the raising of the fairway in the landing area and also now features a collar of rough around the green to make it less likely that a ball will spin into the water as happened in the play-off last year.

Most people are amazed that a golf course designer actually changes the normal layout, just to make it easier to play. Ernie spoke about the criticism;

"The way it was put forward the first year was a little childish, but hopefully we'll have more smiling faces from the players this year. You make changes on a great course like the West Course people are going to not like it. That's part of what we do as designers, but I think we've passed that bridge.  It's history and we've patched things up with all the players. You're not going to please everybody, but I don't believe everybody should criticize just because there's changes." The weather has played a part this year with head greenkeeper Chris Kennedy saying it was;  " The most difficult build up I have ever known. March was the warmest and driest in 120 years and April was the wettest on record. Now May is shaping up to be the coldest in decades. We've had hail, white frosts and driving rain. It's been so hard getting quality grass to grow." Not to worry too much Chris, the course is now so much easier to play. Incidently Chris did not make any comments regarding the changes to the course.