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In My Opinion


Adding Charles Frost to Wells Fargo Championship field evokes warm feelings, wishes

By Ron Green Jr.
Ron Green Jr.
Ron Green Jr., a former Observer staff writer, will write golf columns occasionally for the newspaper.

On Sunday afternoon, as a light rain turned steadily harder, Charles Frost was busy doing the unseen work of bringing the Wells Fargo Championship to life.

Frost is an assistant pro, the head of instruction on pro Scott Davenport’s Quail Hollow Club golf shop staff, and his Sunday afternoon was filled with unpacking boxes and folding shirts to create a special clothing shop for clubhouse guests during the tournament.

He typically spends Wells Fargo week overseeing an auxiliary merchandise tent on the course and helping with the accounting for all the caps, shirts and souvenirs sold during the championship. It’s one difference in being a golf professional and a professional golfer.

During the afternoon, Mac Everett, the event’s executive chairman, asked Frost to stop by the tournament office later to meet with PGA Tour rules official Dillard Pruitt regarding some potential changes in how the par-4 ninth hole might be set up during the championship.

“It seemed a little out of my territory but okay,” Frost recalls.

When Frost arrived at the tournament office, day was turning to night and his Wells Fargo Championship week was a dream coming to life.

“Can you play this week?” Everett asked Frost.

Frost was given the final sponsor exemption into the tournament, the equivalent of a winning lottery ticket for the 36-year old teaching pro, whose instruction helped tour rookie Russell Henley win his first PGA Tour victory in January.

“After a while, he was like, ‘you aren’t pulling my chain are you?’ This is not a gift. He earned it with his play,” Everett said.

Frost, who won the North Carolina Open last year but has never played in a PGA Tour event, had his work week instantly transformed.

“It’s huge. It’s a dream come true,” Frost says.

When word got out, Henley – one of the tour’s rising stars – may have been more excited than his coach.

“When I found out he got in, I got chill bumps all over my body because he’s such an unselfish, good guy. Somebody I look up to, not just about golf, but I ask him about life, too,” said Henley, who immediately put the word out on Twitter.

“We have this conversation every time I come up here and play. He said it’s (his) lifelong dream to play in a PGA Tour event.”

This week, it’s happening.

Frost was told he could leave the unpacking to others. He was given the keys to a silver Mercedes courtesy SUV and all the other courtesies that come with being in the tournament field. He went from making sure everyone else was had what they needed to being a competitor.

He’s received a steady stream of texts and phone calls from Quail Hollow members. Frost is a part of the club along with his wife, Elizabeth, who is the club’s event planner and works in the player services office during the tournament.

“This is a great story about people in the game of golf,” club president Johnny Harris says.

On Tuesday afternoon, when he might otherwise have been making sure the shelves were fully stocked in the merchandise tent, Frost was playing a leisurely practice round with Henley and Jack Fields, who plays the eGolf Tour and who has worked off and on at Quail Hollow.

Fields earned his spot by winning a six-for-one playoff at the end of Monday’s qualifying event, an enormous moment in the blooming career of the recent Charlotte transplant but he was stoked by Frost earning an exemption.

“How cool is that?” Fields says walking down the 16th fairway. “He deserves it more than anyone.”

Frost, who has a shock of thick blond hair, keeps finding himself smiling at this opportunity.

When he ripped a fairway wood shot, Henley shouted, “Whoo….Frost!”

When a friend saw him taking his time during the practice round, Frost smiled and said, “I’m making sure to take it all in.”

A week ago, he was a club pro playing in the Carmel Country Club Pro-Am a couple of miles away.

“That’s not exactly playing the Zurich (Classic of New Orleans, the most recent PGA Tour event) but it’s better than sitting behind a desk,” Frost says. “I feel prepared.”

Now he’s teeing it up against Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy.

No one plays Quail Hollow better than Frost.

No one.

He stood on the 18th tee a few years ago needing a birdie to shoot 59 from the back tees (just in front of the Wells Fargo tees). Frost made an eight to shoot 64.

Twice, he’s shot 61 from the member tees.

When Henley’s sports psychologist suggested his client play a round from the front tees, Frost joined him. Frost shot 57.

“It makes you want to quit is what it does,” Fields says. “If he’s going to start throwing those kinds of numbers around, I’m just going to stay at home.”

Frost says he isn’t a goal-setter. He wants to make the cut – that will give him the weekend off from his club job – but success doesn’t come in black and white this week.

“I just want to play well. If I feel pretty decent about the way I played, I won’t worry too much about it,” Frost says.

And what about playing against Henley, who credits Frost with improving his swing and his course management?

“We’ve talked about it briefly and he’s very excited for me,” Frost says. “I don’t think he’s worried about me, though.”

Then Frost headed down the fairway with Henley, inside the ropes together.

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