Banking

May 1, 2014

As seen from Green Mile Club: Lobster, leather chairs, views of Wells Fargo Championship

Quail Hollow is offering high-end hospitality at the new Green Mile Club at this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.

Lobster for lunch. Specialty merchandise. And one of the best views on the PGA Tour.

That’s what you’ll get if you’re invited out to the Green Mile Club, the new high-end hospitality venue that debuted at this week’s Wells Fargo Championship.

Quail Hollow Club came up with the idea in February, after course renovations produced an open spot with spectacular views of the 16th and 17th greens, said club President Johnny Harris. In 60 days, the club sold all 300 tickets, and it’s likely to expand the venue next year.

“There is nothing like this view in golf right now,” the Charlotte developer said in an interview Thursday.

The target market is midsized companies that want to entertain just a few guests, Harris said. Tickets cost $3,000 for five days of golf, food and drinks.

For their money, customers get expansive views of the course from a deck that rings the air-conditioned, glass-walled tent. Inside, guests can lounge in leather chairs, grab drinks from a wood-paneled bar or eat in a dining area while watching the golf action on flat-screen TVs. In addition to lobster, Thursday’s menu included oysters, shrimp, sushi and steak sandwiches.

For souvenirs, guests don’t have to settle for run-of-the-mill Wells Fargo Championship garb. The club is selling specialty Green Mile merchandise, named for the course’s three brutally difficult finishing holes. Shirts, hats and other items bear a logo featuring three quail feathers.

“We have 300 guests,” Harris said. “We want to make sure they have a very special experience.”

One of those guests on Thursday was UNC Chapel Hill football coach Larry Fedora, who spent part of the day at the course before heading back to Raleigh for a speaking engagement.

“You can see so much here,” Fedora said of the club. “It should be a lot of fun.”

Martha Bartz, who was there with her husband, Charlie, settled into one of the chairs facing the 17th tee, where golfers must cross water to reach the green.

“This is spectacular,” Bartz said. “I’m feeling very fortunate to be sitting here.”

Quail Hollow is splitting income from the new venue with Champions for Education, the nonprofit group that runs the Wells Fargo Championship. In the fiscal year that ended in August 2012, the tournament had total revenue of $13.4 million and gave $1.2 million to charity, according to the nonprofit’s latest 990 filing.

The exclusive club isn’t the only new attraction for patrons at the tournament this year.

Quail Hollow has added an outdoor Green Mile Village open to the public that includes specialty foods such as crepes and noodles. The nearby Wells Fargo Experience tent has an ATM, phone charging station and a golf simulator.

The tournament has also added new hospitality areas, including a new venue at the 17th tee for Wells Fargo and other companies.

Four-year hospitality contracts end after this year, so staff will be busy talking to companies about renewing for four more tournaments at Quail Hollow over the next five years, said Jan Ivey, director of marketing and partner relations. In 2017, the tournament will relocate to Wilmington to make room for the PGA Championship.

The Wells Fargo Championship staff is also selling hospitality spots for the Wilmington tournament but is not involved with the PGA Championship.

“This is a really critical off season,” Ivey said. “But this is the third time we’ve done it. It’s not our first rodeo.”

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