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Quail Hollow course gets new look

GOLFQUAILHOLLOW_11
Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
Golfers play the 16th green at Quail Hollow Club on Thursday. Following the 2013 Wells Fargo Championship, work began on improvements to the course.

The golf course at Quail Hollow Club has a new look. It’s subtle in some spots and downright dramatic in others.

It more strongly positions Quail Hollow for the future, which likely includes at least five more years of the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship and Charlotte’s first major tournament – the 2017 PGA Championship.

A two-phase course improvement project, the second of which began the Monday after last May’s Wells Fargo Championship concluded, wrapped up in late August.

“This is something we’re really excited about,” Quail Hollow President Johnny Harris said Thursday. “We’re doing this with an anticipation of an extended relationship that we think is forthcoming with Wells Fargo and the PGA Championship.”

The key changes to the course are centered on Quail Hollow’s “Green Mile” finishing holes and include a transition to MiniVerde Bermuda grass greens and a drastic change to the 16th hole.

Quail Hollow came under criticism during last May’s Wells Fargo Championship, which was played with unsightly dark patches on several greens.

Harris said the club used the opportunity of already re-seeding the greens to completely rebuild all 18 putting surfaces as well as two practice greens.

“We took everything out and re-did it, we were so concerned about what happened in May,” said Harris. “Without the problems with the greens, we might have put it off.”

The putting surfaces were also constructed with gentler slopes, which Harris said is more suited to the new turf.

More than 90,000 pounds of dirt were used to rebuild the 16th hole, which now extends to the large lake that sits in the middle of the property. The hole now plays as a 505-yard par-4, sitting to the left of the original fairway. The fairway is now to the left of a large oak tree that was once the sight line for the left of the old fairway.

About one acre of the lake was filled in to form the new green, which is about 80 yards to the left of where it originally sat and 25 feet lower.

Other changes – all done under the supervision of course architect Tom Fazio – include the tee at the par-3 17th, which was moved to the right and now can play up to 217 yards. Also, the par-4 eighth hole will now play straight and is potentially a drive-able 300 yards for many pros.

Harris would not say how much the renovation cost, except that it exceeded the $2million the club spent to remake the course in 1996. Rebuilding the greens, he said, cost nearly $1million.

Harris said he expects a five-year extension for the Wells Fargo Championship to be signed soon. It would keep the tournament at Quail Hollow through 2019, although the event will likely move to Eagle Pointe in 2017 when the PGA Championship is at Quail Hollow.

Harris said several pros – including Webb Simpson, Ben Martin, Charles Howell III, Brendon de Jonge and Robert Karlsson – have played Quail Hollow since the renovation. Johnson Wagner, a Charlotte resident and PGA player, was on the course Thursday.

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