Golf: First Tee - So what is Wentworth worth?

WILLY BAUER, exasperated with persistent rumours that Wentworth is up for sale, contacts First Tee to put the record straight. "Business is booming," Willy, chief executive of the upmarket Surrey estate, which boasts three courses and the odd South American dictator, said: "We have had no offers and we are not looking for any."

The word was that Elliot Bernerd, who bought Wentworth for pounds 19m, a snip in 1989, had lost a few bob on a deal in Russia and was looking to replenish the coffers. Absolute nonsense, said Willy, who added: "This will always be a golf and country club. Nobody's going to come in and turn it into a supermarket." However, Willy admitted the bottom line is "everything is for sale".

To emphasise the point, he recounted a tale when he was manager of the Hyde Park Hotel, the flagship of the Forte Group. "There were rumours that it was being sold. I went to see Lord Forte, the chairman, and he emphasised that the very notion of selling his pride and joy was out of the question. A few months later I was approached by a man who wanted to make a serious bid for the hotel. I told him it was a waste of time. He said I would be very unwise not to put the offer on the table. Lord Forte spat me out again and asked me if I had a short memory. As I left his office he said: `How much is the offer worth?' So if you know anybody who wants to buy Wentworth for pounds 200m let me know."

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