How were the three PGA Tour tournaments in the Carolinas affected by the tour’s significant changes to and contraction of its schedule in 2018-19?
As it turns out, hardly.
The RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island has retained its spot following the Masters Tournament and moves back a week on the calendar to the third week of April, which seemingly gives it an even better chance of getting warm weather.
The Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., remains the first weekend in May, and is now two weeks after the Heritage instead of three weeks with the Valero Texas Open moving ahead of the Masters instead of following the Heritage.
And the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., retains its place on the schedule as the event that precedes the start of the FedExCup Playoffs, essentially serving as a last chance for many to qualify for the tour’s postseason.
The former Greater Greensboro Open will move two weeks ahead on the calendar, from the third week in August to the first week in August.
The season- and playoff-ending Tour Championship will conclude on Aug. 25 next year, before the start of the NFL season. Key changes to the schedule include the shortening of the playoffs from four events to three, the moving of the PGA Championship to May and the moving of the Players Championship to March.
Tournament operators in the Carolinas should be pleased by the relative lack of movement of their events.
“We love our position on the new schedule,” Wells Fargo tournament director Gary Sobba said. “The WFC remains the first week of May which is perfect for our patrons and the course. The weather was absolutely perfect this year and it’s great for the course, the course was in great shape. Our patrons know the first week of May it’s the Wells Fargo Championship.”
RBC Heritage tournament director Steve Wilmot is certainly happy. The Heritage, which celebrated its 50th year in April, was moved to the week after the Masters in 1983 and has remained there.
“We know we have a great fit on the schedule and it works,” Wilmot said Thursday. “The tour recognizes as well as others that we work the week after the Masters. The players love it, the schedule works. We’ll see how things play out next year with player commitments and all that, but we’re extremely pleased with things.”
There are pluses and minuses to following a major championship on the schedule, but the proximity of Hilton Head to Augusta, relaxed atmosphere of both the venue and tournament following the pressure of the season’s first major, and weather conditions in early April seem to work for the Masters-Heritage combination.
“Unfortunately we do lose some players [falling after the Masters] but we gain some players,” Wilmot said. “There are international players who are in for the Masters and take the three-hour drive and join us for a week. . . . You look at weather and other things and it works for us.”