Ace Golf Acquires Wentworth Golf Club in Tarpon Springs

Wentworth Golf Club

Effective Jan. 1, Tampa-based Ace Golf has acquired member-owned Wentworth Golf Club. 

Wentworth joins the Ace Golf family that includes the Pebble Creek Golf Club in New Tampa and Ace Golf Ranges in Brandon and Riverview. For the first time since it was founded in 1990, Wentworth will be open to public play as a semi-private club, and will still maintain an exclusive membership at what is considered one of the finest golf clubs in the Tampa Bay area.

Located in the East Lake area of north Pinellas County, Wentworth Golf Club is considered one of the more challenging and prestigious 18-hole golf clubs in the area.

Wentworth is best known for its brand new Platinum Paspallum greens, naturally rolling terrain with abundant wildlife and intricate layout set amongst million dollar homes in the upscale Wentworth community. 

The Steve Smyers-designed par-71 golf course is one of several high-end courses that he designed in the area, including Old Memorial in Tampa, Grand Pines and Isleworth in Orlando, and Southern Dunes in Haines City.  Wentworth also has a driving range, practice putting green and short game area.

Ace Golf is family-owned by married couple Bill Place and Su Lee. Place started Ace Golf 18 years ago as Tampa-area Golf Practice Range facilities that included miniature golf, batting cages, and golf pro shops. 

In 2005, Ace Golf purchased the Pebble Creek Golf Club, renovated it extensively, returned the club to profitability and nearly doubled the number of members and rounds played there. In addition to Pebble Creek, Ace Golf has Golf Practice Ranges in Brandon and Riverview.

A number of private golf clubs like Wentworth and neighboring Crescent Oaks Golf Club have faced difficulties as membership declined with the economy.  The high fixed costs associated with maintaining exclusive golf clubs becomes spread amongst fewer members, leading to higher dues and financial losses. At many clubs, particularly those that are not member-owned, this often leads to declining conditions as maintenance and other costs are cut to keep up with lower revenues.  

Wentworth Golf Club 

Crescent Oaks is a company-owned course (not member owned) that fared drastically different from member-owned Wentworth. Crescent’s owner closed the doors recently, unable to keep up with market conditions.  

Wentworth faced its own financial challenges, but as a club with over 70 wealthy member owners it was able to maintain optimal playing conditions and maintenance levels. Its members kept up funding for the course, even installing expensive, new greens last summer.

“I’ve been looking for another Golf Course to add to our portfolio for the last two years,” said Place. “I was very impressed at what great condition Wentworth is in. The members here love this course and it shows in how carefully they have taken care of it and its beautiful English-manor style clubhouse.” 

Ace Golf has aggressive plans to expand Wentworth’s member base, introduce limited public play, improve the golf course and build its banquet and restaurant business.   

For the first time ever, anyone may call Wentworth and make a tee time. To the extent that the member base grows and members fill tee times, the rest of the tee sheet will be available to the public. Many area golfers that haven’t previously been able to play Wentworth are excited at the prospect of being able to play starting on New Year’s Day.

Ace will increase membership by a drastically changed, competitive dues structure. Until this year, equity members paid monthly dues of $550/month plus assessments when the club lost money in any year. 

The new dues structure starts at $99 per month for a single member age 30 and under and averages between $200 and $250/month for most members according to age group. 

Golf course improvements will include a widening of some of the fairways, enlarging tees, and establishing new tees for longer and shorter play to accommodate better golfers and junior golfers.  

A new English Pub open to the public will be established later this summer in Wentworth’s clubhouse.  Ace Golf successfully added a popular neighborhood Irish Pub to its Pebble Creek Golf Club. 

The Wentworth Pub will expand on the club’s English theme with a classic Pub featuring English beers and pub food. Other changes include an expansion of the member dining room for public wedding receptions, banquets and parties. Also, the veranda will be expanded and improved for outdoor dining. The club will continue to offer exclusive member and golf guest dining facilities while adding the pub that will be open to the public.

To lead the new Wentworth Golf Club, Ace Golf has hired PGA Professional Steve Martin, who previously worked as general manager of the Cheval Golf and Country Club in Tampa, and as marketing director at the Cypress Run Golf Club. 

To make a tee time to play Wentworth, call (727) 942-4760. The club is open seven days a week. The club’s website is www.wentworthgolfclub.org  and the physical address is 2990 Wentworth Way, Tarpon Springs, 34688. All guests will be admitted through the Wentworth community gate off Eastlake Road just south of Keystone Road. 

 

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