A prestigious golf course in Surrey, England, has become the battleground for a proxy-war between the global rich and ultra-rich after being bought by a Chinese holding company, The Guardian reports. The Wentworth Club was purchased by Reignwood Consulting, which is controlled by Red Bull billionaire Yan Bin, in 2015. The Guardian’s long-read details Bin’s effort to convert the old course and its clubhouse, literally named “The Island,” into “the Augusta of Europe,” forcing all members to reapply, hiking annual dues to the equivalent of $14,000 per person, and requiring a $140,000 “debenture,” or a 50-year loan, to the club and its owner.
The moves spurred a backlash among the club’s clientele, who formed a counter-coalition they called “Wet Feet,” after a Chinese proverb (“It never rains on your neighbors without you getting your feet wet”), provoking, as reporter Sumanth Subramanian put it, “an opportunity for the mocking weep of tiny violins.” They even hired a PR firm to go after Bin. But The Guardian reports that the billionaire seems to have emerged victorious from the battle and has told members that he plans to raise fees again in 2022.