How Wilmington, N.C., landed 2017 Tour stop
Change is nothing new to the folks at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. Annually, they unveil alterations and improvements to their golf course that constantly challenge the best of the PGA Tour.
So when a slice of continuity was made official Tuesday – that the title sponsor of the May tournament, Wells Fargo, had extended its contract through 2019 – it came with an asterisk. The 2017 Wells Fargo Championship will be held at Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, N.C., so that Quail Hollow can be totally committed to hosting that summer’s PGA Championship.
Johnny Harris, president of Quail Hollow Club, said there had been early considerations for playing host to both the Wells Fargo Championship in May of 2017 and the PGA Championship later that August, “but everybody figured it was better to go elsewhere.”
While officials looked at possibly East Lake GC in Atlanta and some spots north of Charlotte, in the end, Eagle Point GC shined through. And in one respect it provides the Wells Fargo Championship with consistency. Eagle Point, which opened in 2000, was designed by Tom Fazio, just a few years after he did impressive re-design work to Quail Hollow, which dates back to 1959.
Bobby Long, a founding member at Eagle Point, said “there’s no doubt we’re going to knock it out of the park,” and Harris – a member at Eagle Point, about 220 miles east of Quail Hollow – offered high praise to the course.
Some venues have hosted two marquee tournaments in the same year:
- St. Andrews takes on the Open Championship every five summers and still handles the Dunhill Links in October;
- Pebble Beach hosted its annual AT&T Pro-Am in February of 2010 and had the 2010 U.S. Open four months later;
- Last year Muirfield Village played host to its annual Memorial in June, then the Presidents Cup in early October.
It’s not an easy task, nor would it be recommended. Especially at a venue such as Quail Hollow, which spares no expense in making improvements. This year, for instance, players arriving for the May 1-4 tournament will discover a vastly different par-4 16th, with the green pushed closer to the water, and a new tee box at the par-3 17th that will require a longer, but straight shot over water.
As to Wells Fargo’s decision to extend as title sponsor for five years, it continues a positive roll for PGA Tour officials. Both AT&T and Travelers announced 10-year extensions for their tournaments, while Farmers Insurance extended five years through 2019 for the tournament at Torrey Pines and Sony for four years through 2018 in Honolulu.
“Wells Fargo is proud to continue as the title sponsor of the Wells Fargo Championship and ensure that the wonderful benefits the tournament brings to our local communities continue for years to come,” said Jamie Moldafsky, chief marketing officer.