Golf

On Grand Strand Golf: Quail Hollow to undergo changes before 2017 PGA Championship

James Hahn turns to acknowledge the cheers of the gallery following his victory in the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday at Quail Hollow.
James Hahn turns to acknowledge the cheers of the gallery following his victory in the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday at Quail Hollow. TNS

The Quail Hollow Club that will host next summer’s PGA Championship will be quite different than the one that hosted the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday, as major changes are coming to the Charlotte course.

Most of the changes are coming to the front nine as part of a master plan created a few years ago by course designer Tom Fazio, who reconstructed the course in 1997.

The front nine will reportedly get three new holes. The 418-yard par-4 first hole will be converted into a longer par-4 for tournament play. The change will eliminate the par-3 second hole to allow for the new first green located near the current second green. The 570-yard par-5 fifth hole will also be eliminated and in its place will be a par-3 and a par-4.

The sixth through ninth holes will remain the same.

The 426-yard par-4 11th hole may also be redesigned, moving the green to add length. A fairway bunker will likely be moved approximately 80 yards farther from the tee to bring it back into play. James Hahn’s winning score was 9-under 279.

“This type of scoring would definitely hold up in a PGA Championship,” said Justin Rose, who finished third Sunday. “They’re not looking for us to shoot even par like a U.S. Open. Single digits under par is really good golf and it’s a sign of a great golf course, I think. I’ve seen the plans for this golf course and it’s only going to make it tougher. It’s going to be in August, so right now we’re playing a nice overseed, which I think is much easier to chip out of. With Bermuda [grass] rough you’ll get flyers and I think the golf course will play incredibly difficult.”

The course renovations began Monday and are part of a plan that began with the creation of a new 16th hole in 2013. Greens are also being switched from MiniVerde to Champion, though it’s a minimal change as both are ultradwarf Bermudagrasses.

Greens will be firm with their transition coming this summer, and depending on the course setup, Phil Mickelson believes an over-par score could win.

“Can you imagine this golf course with severe rough where you have to play very defensive?” said Mickelson, who tied for fourth. “I think over par would end up winning it. It’s a very difficult test. The greens are very challenging and yet its greatness kind of comes out. You see a great discrepancy in scores. The guys that play well are able to take advantage of it, make birdies, and the guys that aren’t are getting penalized. I think that’s the sign of a really great golf course.”

New venue

With the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow in 2017, the Wells Fargo Championship will be played much closer to the Grand Strand at Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington next year before returning to Quail Hollow for at least 2018 and ’19. Tickets are already on sale for next year’s tournament and volunteers will be needed.

Eagle Point is a highly-regarded private club and Tom Fazio-designed golf course.

The Wells Fargo traditionally attracts one of the stronger fields on the PGA Tour, but with the tournament moving to a new venue for just one year it will be interesting to see what happens to the field.

“I’m really not sure what my schedule’s going to be next year, but this, Wells Fargo and Quail Hollow especially, has been a great place for me. We’ll see,” said two-time Wells Fargo champion Rory McIlroy.

Quail Hollow is also scheduled to host the 2021 Presidents Cup.

Carolinas lead fundraiser

As usual, the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association, with more than $44,000 raised, was the leader among more than 50 fundraising partners that donated rounds to support the 2016 Rounds 4 Research fundraising program.

Founders Group International donated rounds on all of its 22 managed Grand Strand courses.

The initiative supports turfgrass research at the local level and is managed by the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG), the philanthropic arm of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. More than 800 rounds were sold yielding more than $164,000 during an April online auction of tee times.

The top bid was $4,600 for four rounds of golf offered by Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville. Other high bids included $2,325 for four players at East Lake Golf Club outside of Atlanta, and more than $1,800 apiece for two stay-and-play packages for four players at the French Lick Golf Resort in French Lick, Ind.

The national campaign is supported by a $50,000 donation from The Toro Co., and the program has raised more than $565,000 since launching in 2012. The Georgia GCSA was second to the Carolinas with $13,000 raised in the auction for its association.

U.S. Opens popular

The United States Golf Association has accepted a total of 9,877 entries for the 116th U.S. Open from June 16-19 at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, the third most to the record 10,127 accepted for the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort and the 9,882 entries accepted for last year’s tournament at Chambers Bay in Washington.

The USGA accepted entries from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 72 foreign countries. To be eligible, a player must be professional or have a Handicap Index not exceeding 1.4.

Local 18-hole qualifying at 111 sites in the U.S. is taking place between May 2-19. Sectional 36-hole qualifying will be conducted on May 23 in Japan, May 30 in England and June 6 at 10 sites in the U.S. from New Jersey to California.

The USGA has also accepted 1,855 entries for the 71st U.S. Women’s Open from July 7-10 at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif., marking the second consecutive year the tournament has received more than 1,800 entries. The 2015 championship at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club holds the entry record with 1,873. Entries were received from 48 states (all except Alaska and Wyoming) and 52 countries.

Hall nominations due

The selection committee of the Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame is accepting nominations through Sunday for the class of 2016. Nomination forms and more information are available at themyrtlebeachgolfhalloffame.com and nominations remain active for consideration for five years.

The 19 current members are General James Hackler, Cecil Brandon, Clay Brittain, Carolyn Cudone, Jimmy D’Angelo, Robert White, George ‘Buster’ Bryan, Charlie Byers, Paul Himmelsbach, Gary Schaal, J. Egerton Burroughs, J.Bryan Floyd, Edward Jerdon, Casper Leon Benton, George Hilliard, Critt Gore, Russell ‘Doc’ Burgess, Phillip Goings and Sandy Miles.

Johnson back on course

Coastal Carolina alumnus Dustin Johnson returns to action on the PGA Tour in this week’s Players Championship for the first time since he tied for fourth in the Masters Tournament more than four weeks ago.

Johnson was entered in this past week’s Wells Fargo Championship but withdrew last Monday and never made the trip to Charlotte from his home in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Johnson doesn’t have a great track record around TPC Sawgrass. In seven appearances he has finished inside the top 55 just once, a tie for 34th in 2010.

He is in a powerhouse pairing with Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson going off the first tee Thursday at 1:58 p.m.

With his son, Tatum, nearly 16 months old, Johnson says his practice and workout schedules have been altered. Tatum usually wakes at about 8 to 8:30 a.m.

“Sometimes it’s hard to leave him. It just depends,” Johnson said. “When I’m out during the week of a tournament I’ve got to go to work so it’s not a big deal, but when I’m at home like on an off week, yeah, it’s definitely harder to go to the golf course. If I am going, I try to get up and go before he wakes up so I won’t see him. Once I see him, I’ll stay.”

Johnson held a rambunctious Tatum in his right arm when he spoke to the media following the final round of the Masters. “Maybe it motivates me to go practice, now that I’ve got a little man to take care of,” he said.

Women have their day

The Greg Norman Champions Golf Academy at Barefoot Resort will be hosting “Golfing with a Twist” for a fun evening out for girls and women from 4-8 p.m. June 7 in recognition and support of the inaugural International Women’s Golf Day.

The Grand Strand’s two PGA Tour Superstore locations will also be hosting Women’s Golf Day events. All events are free and for women and girls with or without golf experience.

At the Norman Academy, there will be instruction from the academy’s coaches on the putting green and driving range as well as time for socializing and the chance to win over $600 worth of prizes.

Players can bring their own equipment, but the academy will also provide clubs, balls, instruction, beverages (soda, water, and adult drinks), hors d’oeuvres and entertainment. The event has a maximum participation of 45 women. Register online at bitly.com/golfingwithatwist.

At PGA Superstore, basic instruction will be offered from 4-6 p.m. in the club department and followed by two social hours from 6-8 p.m. with appetizers and non-alcoholic drinks. PGA Tour Superstore staff will inform the participants about other programs available to them. Women can sign up by calling the Myrtle Beach location at 843-839-4653 or NMB store at 843-272-6030.

International Women’s Golf Day was created to be a global growth-of-the-game initiative welcoming women and girls to golf facilities for introduction to the game in a spirited environment. Other participating facilities include PGA Tour Superstores from coast to coast, the Leadbetter Golf Academy in Florida and courses in Nevada, Arizona, Alaska and Ohio.

To learn more or register a golf facility for an International Women’s Golf Day outing go to womensgolfday.com or contact Hollie at info@womensgolfday.com.

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