CHARLOTTE, N.C. – If the average person was asked to visualize their all-time favorite golf courses, they probably can’t.
It would sound pretty much like every other hole: stretch of neatly cut grass with trees, sand and a little red flag at the end.
The twists and turns may vary, with the occasional water hazard thrown in. But described by itself would be like any other hole.
Even the pros in the Wells Fargo Championship played at Quail Hollow Club for over a decade, likely couldn’t walk you through each hole of the course.
That’s because people don’t remember the hole or the course. They remember the players.
They remember the moments.
The sport of golf has been full of characters for over a century. On and off the course, men of unique talents have organized competitions and drawn crowds in the thousands, with every tactic from publicized trash talking to exceptional cash prizes.
On January 17, 1916, New York department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker was one of those unique men. He sponsored a lunch for prominent professional and amateur golfers where he wanted to start a tournament of champions.
He offered up a $500 cash prize himself and commissioned a trophy to be handed out, not to be outdone by British golfers across the Atlantic who already had a trophy of their own.
That conversation evolved into the founding of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) of America, and set the date for what would be the first PGA Championship.
So for the Queen City, bringing one of the world’s premier golf tournaments with that much history to the Quail Hollow Club brings about a feeling that means something more to Charlotte’s people.
It means pride.
Pride for a city that is growing with transplants from across the country by the day. And for a city that is in the process of learning that cultural growing pains and a lot more traffic comes with prosperity.
It means pride for a sports fandom that cares about the teams that represent them, from “Buzz City” and the Hornets to the phenomenon that is Carolina Panthers football. So much pride for athletics here in Charlotte that conversations about bringing professional baseball and soccer teams to the Queen City are happening over water coolers and in bars every week.
The President of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce says the PGA Championship that will be played next week in Charlotte is going to be worth an estimated $100 million to the city and the surrounding area.
But this week, the entire city seems to be excited about the PGA Championship coming to Quail Hollow in one way or another.
Whether it’s the hotels and restaurants that are eagerly awaiting the $100 million business uptick the city will get as the spectators pour in. Or whether it be the sports fans that get to take part in one of the game's biggest tournaments from the convenience of their own backyard.
It's just about time to pour yourself an Arnold Palmer an head out to Quail Hollow.
The tournament replaces the usual annual PGA tour event at Quail Hollow Club, the Wells Fargo Championship, which was played back in May of this year on the North Carolina coast in Wilmington.
And don’t get me wrong; Charlotteans love hosting The Wells Fargo too. The golf community in Charlotte is attracting businesses like TopGolf to invest in new facilities attracting an audience of young professionals as recently as this summer.
The Wells Fargo Championship has made its dent in history for many of today’s top golfers, even in it’s brief 14-year span. Legends like Vijay Singh winning in 2005, or Tiger Woods in 2007, (also worth mentioning that Woods was the only person to ever win back-to-back PGA Championships). However, Woods is out this year.
Rory McIlroy has had repeated success on the Queen City course, winning in 2010 and 2015. This includes shattering the all-time course record by five strokes at the 2015 Wells Fargo, a record that stands today.
But now, the PGA Championship gets to write its history on Quail Hollow.
For the 99th time, Rodman Wanamaker’s dream becomes reality; and this time, the winner takes home a cool $10 million prize.
While the players don't tee off until Wednesday, the fan experience is well underway. Quail Hollow's 43,000 square-foot pro shop held its grand opening on Saturday.
Just a taste of history:
- Walter Hagen’s four consecutive titles in the mid-1920s
- Jack Nicklaus’ all-time leading five PGA Champion crowns
- Tiger Woods running after his tying putt in the playoff at Valhalla in 2000.
Moments we all remember
Will Jordan Spieth become the youngest player ever to obtain the famed career Grand Slam, winning all four of the PGA’s major events?
Or will Rory McIlroy claim a third title at Quail Hollow Club, while also pocketing his fifth major championship?
Whoever earns Wanamaker’s prize will have to walk Quail Hollow’s ‘green mile’ to victory, the grueling 16, 17 and 18 holes that are considered some of the toughest in the PGA.
Quail Hollow Club hosting the 99th PGA Championship will go down as something bigger than another golf tournament. It’s all a part of sports history.
And Charlotte has a front row seat.
Stick with WCNC.com this week, as we will have team coverage of the 2017 PGA Championship. Click HERE for tickets to the tournament.