From the Rough

Golf without discretion

Is the PGA Tour about to lose Quail Hollow as a tour site?

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Quail Hollow’s run as one of the PGA Tour’s premiere tour stops could be coming to a close in the near future. The Charlotte, NC, course, currently under contract to host the Well Fargo tour event until 2014, could be pulling rank after their contract runs out.

Charlotte Observer golf writer Ron Green Jr. grabbed the scoop earlier today that Quail Hollow is being lined up to host the 2017 PGA Championship. While club president Johnny Harris wouldn’t confirm the announcement, he did anything but deny it, telling the Observer that, “It’s not appropriate for me to comment until after the announcement on Tuesday.”

Assuming Quail Hollow does host the PGA Championship in 2017, it would be the course’s first step towards separating itself from its year-to-year duties as a tour stop. Back in April, Harris gave telling interview to the Charlotte Business Journal (covered on FTR), detailing some of the plans he had in store for the course.

Here’s snippet of Harris’ interview in April, one that gave a clouded picture of Quail Hollow’s future as a constant site on the PGA Tour:

Are the Quail Hollow members frustrated — what feedback have you received?
Our board made the decision to have this tournament. We actually did a survey a while back. There are 10% to 15% who would just as soon not have it, a group of about 15% to 20% that are just bonkers for it and then there’s a group of about 45% that are for it and the rest are lukewarm. That’s always the case. Whenever this tournament has come up at our board level, there’s never been a vote against anything about this tournament. And by the way, there’s a window at the end of the tunnel.

I think you’re saying that you’re not hearing an outcry from members that’s making you say, “We won’t do this past 2014.”
No, but we don’t have a contract past 2014.

You’re so involved in golf here and beyond. Would you like to have an ongoing PGA Tour event?
What I’m most interested in is trying to figure out the best way to bring the best players in the world to Charlotte to play golf and in a way that is not a negative on our membership.

So it doesn’t necessarily have to be every year?
Wouldn’t think so. (PGA Tour Commissioner) Tim (Finchem) and I are going to have lunch during the tournament. I don’t think we would ever do anything that wasn’t as strong or positive to the club as this arrangement is. We’re not going to do something that’s not appropriate for our members. If it’s not out there, it’s not out there.

Hosting a PGA Championship would put the course through rigorous set of tests by the PGA of America in the years leading up to the event, meaning I wouldn’t be shocked to hear Quail Hollow give the excuse that they want the course to be in top shape for the event, thereby allowing them to quietly end their contractual agreement with the tour in 2014.

While I’m sure Finchem will have a backup plan in place, the thought of losing one of the premier courses to the PGA Championship rotation has to hurt. But it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.

As you can see from the interview, Harris and the membership have been mulling this idea for a while. There are clearly some members out there who don’t like the idea of hosting an event every year, and that’s fine.

While there’s still a chance that Quail Hollow could host a tour event and a major championship, I just don’t see if happening. In the end, I think you’ll see Johnny Harris and the membership ride off into the sunset, with a PGA Championship in tow.


Written by Jonathan Wall

08/30/2010 at 4:26 pm

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