Members of Wentworth Golf Club are rallying the troops against Chinese owner Reignwood, but will there be a battle in the ballroom?
As City golfers continue to campaign against the club's new Chinese owner and a hike in membership fees, key figures on the estate have called for a late-night extraordinary general meeting in Wentworth's ballroom to discuss battle strategy.
Wentworth Heritage Group, a local campaign spearheaded by Russian mining boss and Wentworth's tennis captain Kirill Klip, is calling on members to bring their families to the meeting later this month to "vote on a series of motions that will shape our ongoing strategy."
In a letter to Wentworth members seen by City A.M., the heritage group said: "Please attend in person with your family. We need as many members as possible to be there to express their views and send the strongest possible message to club management."
However, the troops may face a battle in the ballroom, as a spokesperson for the club tells us that management reserve the right to turn any non-members away.
The majority of Wentworth's 4,000 memberships are family packages, but some living on the estate hold single party memberships. Extended relatives could be barred from the ballroom if they're found to not have membership status.
Wentworth Club said: "Extraordinary general meetings are called and arranged by our members and must be attended by Club Management."
Reignwood announced in October last year that it planned to cull Wentworth’s membership from 4,000 individuals to just 888 debentures while introducing a one-off re-joining fee of £100,000. Since then, members and residents on the Wentworth estate have hired City lawyers at Quinn Emmanuel to reverse the firm's plans.
Members' protests seem to be working so far. Writing in the Financial Times, Reignwood executive Ni Songhua claimed that campaigners "risk deterring other businesses from working with partners in the UK", adding that members are "currently sending the entirely the wrong signal to overseas investors".
Speaking to The Capitalist in February, Wentworth chief Stephen Gibson dismissed campaigns against the club as a "small minority" that don't speak for the entire membership.
According to Klip, the emergency meeting is a chance for the all members to voice their opinions. He said it will "finally show the owner that members are not happy. They really aren't".