What’s new at Wentworth?
With exactly a week to go until the BMW PGA Championship launches the European Tour’s new Rolex Series, EuropeanTour.com looks at some of the new initiatives you can expect to see at Wentworth...
The Rolex Series
Of course, next week also marks the launch of the European Tour’s new Rolex Series – an alliance of eight premium events all with minimum prize funds of $7million. Described as one of the most important developments in the European Tour’s 45 year history, the Rolex Series brings together the world’s leading players – which next week includes Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose and defending champion Chris Wood– and showcases them to a global audience, with enhanced broadcast and digital production. So whether you are at Wentworth in person, or watching around the world, all you need to do is enjoy it.
A new era for ET.com
Innovation will also be at your fingertips next week thanks to the launch of the new europeantour.com, iOS and Android Apps, offering fans a whole new digital experience. The European Tour’s revamped digital platforms will take fans inside the ropes with exclusive behind the scenes content, building closer connections to players and delivering content first and fastest. It is all part of wider European Tour efforts to make golf more accessible and to engage more fans globally, building on the success of new formats such as the Hero Challenge and GolfSixes and new content including the Little Interviews and Fastest Hole Challenge. Here is a sneak preview, but tune in on Monday for the full experience.
A revamped West Course
There have been some major changes to the famous West Course since Chris Wood lifted the BMW PGA Championship 12 months ago. The bulldozers moved in eight days after Wood sank the winning putt to begin an extensive, multi-million pound renovation programme which was overseen by Ernie Els Design, European Golf Design and an advisory team which included Thomas Bjørn, Paul McGinley and David Jones. All 18 greens were re-laid, providing immaculate new putting surfaces for the world’s leading players, while 29 bunkers were removed and a new sub-air system installed. The changes certainly got the thumbs up from defending champion Chris Wood when he got his first look earlier this month (click here).
A new first tee experience
Expect a first tee with a difference next week, as big screen videos and hosts Martin Bayfield and Chris Hollins introduce the players to the tee and keep the grandstands informed and entertained, before handing over to the European Tour’s Official Starter, Alastair Scott.
Music on the range
Remember Rock the Range in Abu Dhabi? Well, the beats are back, with a special playlist curated by the European Tour’s finest set to soundtrack the practice area at Wentworth. Each player will be asked to contribute his favourite song which will be played as the players warm up for the first Rolex Series event. Will Henrik Stenson opt for Vanilla Ice? Someone has to go for Eye of the Tiger, surely?
The Quo and The Chiefs
Staying on the subject of music, the entertainment will continue even after play has finished thanks to two weekend concerts. Following the success of last year’s Show Stage, which featured Keane’s Tom Chaplin and Mike and the Mechanics, Status Quo will rock the public village on Saturday night, performing hits such as Rockin’ All Over the World, Whatever You Want, Down Down, and Caroline.
Then on Sunday night, Indie group the Kaiser Chiefs will bring the curtain down on the BMW PGA Championship when they perform their own hit-laden set, including I Predict a Riot and Ruby. Furthermore, there will be lunchtime acoustic sets, with Josh and Mike from ‘Fairvue’ performing on the Show Stage on Thursday and Mahalia entertaining fans on Friday. Not got a ticket yet? Don’t worry, there’s still time. All you need to do is click here, with special twilight tickets to see the evening bands also available.
Premiered at The Open last July (when it was called The Open Zone, naturally), Sky Sports’ revered interactive area returns for the BMW PGA Championship. Located next to the practice putting green, adjacent to the first fairway, the Sky Zone will feature the world’s leading players, who will give insights into their games, with a particular focus on short game. Sky Sports and European Tour Productions received a BAFTA on Sunday for their innovative coverage of The Open, with the Sky Zone a contributing factor in that award, and it will be complemented by various other broadcast enhancements at the BMW PGA Championship, including in-round interviews, green mapping and the ever-popular Sky Cart.
Innovation in the village
There will also be plenty of innovative technology on display in the championship village where spectators can take part in the BMW 5 Series 360° Experience. This offers the chance to create a dramatic film clip of yourself playing a shot into the iconic 18th green at Wentworth. Other interactive experiences available include the ever-popular remote controlled cars on the BMW M Race track and the virtual hole-in-one challenge on the BMW Fairway, while the Championship Village also offer the opportunity to peruse the impressive line-up of BMW vehicles on display, including BMW’s latest model, the stunning new BMW 5 Series which has been widely acclaimed as the most innovative car in its class.
Risk and reward on the 18th
From Beef’s chest bump, to Miguel’s record breaking ace, there have been a plethora of memorable holes-in-ones at Wentworth in recent years, many of which have been suitably rewarded with a prize kindly supplied by BMW. This year promises to offer something a little different, with the BMW i8 on offer to the first player to make an albatross two on Wentworth’s iconic closing par five 18th hole. The car was recently lowered into place into the grandstand, enticing the world’s leading players into a grandstand finish next week.