Charlotte's Quail Hollow Club is no stranger to golf's PGA tour. Since 2003, the venue has hosted the tournament now known as the Wells Fargo Championship. But next week, things go to a whole new level as the course hosts one of pro golf's four biggest annual events - the PGA Championship.
More than 200,000 people are expected to attend the tournament. WFAE's Mark Rumsey went Quail Hollow this week to check out the preparations. He spoke with the PGA's 2017 Championship Director, Jason Mengel. He's been on assignment in Charlotte since October, 2015, overseeing pre-Championship activities from course renovations to corporate hospitality sales.
Mengel, on why the PGA chose Quail Hollow for this year's Championship:
The golf course is one of the best in the world. The changes to the front nine have been well-received by some of the best players in the world as they've played some practice rounds in advance of the event.
You also need the logistical space to host an event of this size and scope. For the PGA Championship [we're building] 600,000 square feet of temporary flooring, over 300 temporary structures - from of course, thousands of bleacher seats to a 43,000 square foot Championship Shop, which is our merchandise tent. Not every golf course has the footprint to accommodate that.
Finally, here in the Carolinas, you look at the role golf plays in so many lives on a regular basis. For us at the PGA of America, the Carolinas section is the largest. We know we have 2,000 of our members and apprentices here doing great work, growing the game 24/7 throughout the Carolinas.
Rumsey: What makes [the course at Quail Hollow] one of the best in the world?
Mengel: What does it mean to have a major championship golf course? It has to be long enough, it has to be challenging, and importantly - it has to be the right kind of grass to flourish in August when the Championship is played. Here at Quail Hollow they have Bermuda grass that, looking in front of us, is flourishing this time of year.
Rumsey: Several holes here were redesigned for the Championship, and the well-known [golf] architect Tom Fazio was in charge of that, right?
Mengel: It was really the long-term vision of Mr. Fazio and Mr. [Johnny] Harris here at the club where they had an opportunity since the course was going to be shut down for a couple of months to re-grass the greens, they went to the next phase of their long-term plan. A brand new first hole, a brand new fourth and fifth hole. The 11th green was repositioned. For guys who've been out here for the tournament event for several years, this is gonna be much different from the first tee shot.
Mengel: I think that's a fair assumption. Certainly the membership thinks it's harder!
Rumsey: Does hosting this 2017 Championship put Quail Hollow in line to host more major events, or is this likely a 'one-off' deal?
Mengel: I think we're as well positioned for a successful PGA Championship as we could be. It certainly has the support of this community, whether through ticket sales or volunteers, or corporate [support.] So we'll see what happens next week, but I would imagine if things keep trending the way they have over the past couple of years we'll likely be having a conversation at some point about coming back.
Rumsey: This is Charlotte's first time hosting a PGA major golf event. What challenges have there been on account of a learning curve?
Mengel: I think the biggest thing, and it's probably not a surprise, is that there's not 20,000 parking spots right next to the club. That was one of the first things we met and talked about when we opened the office back in October, 2015. We've had support along the way, and input and guidance, from CMPD, and [the Charlotte Department of Transportation] and CATS. A lot of time and effort has been put into the transportation plan and that's the biggest curveball with an event like this.
Rumsey: What are you most anxious about at this point? Anything that would keep you awake at night right now?
Mengel: I think whatever we need to do to bottle the weather that we’ve [been having] and put that [through the tournament], I think that would be fantastic. That's the only thing that's out of our control, really.
Click here for spectator information for the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club, including the PGA's Junior Admission Policy. Any adult with a ticket to the Championship can bring up to 4 Juniors age 17 and younger at no additional cost (Junior tickets are picked up on site at Quail Hollow).