In a time during which title sponsorships can be hard to come by on the PGA Tour, Charlotte’s Quail Hollow Club has received another strong shot of stability.
The tour announced Tuesday that Wells Fargo has renewed its sponsorship of Charlotte’s tour stop for five years. That means the Wells Fargo Championship will be in Charlotte through 2019 – except for 2017, when it temporarily will move to Wilmington’s Eagle Point Golf Club to accommodate the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.
“We think the future is really bright for this tournament,” PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said of the Charlotte tournament, which is scheduled for May 1-4 this year (it will keep its date on the PGA Tour schedule).
The tournament – one of the most popular among players on tour and a consistent sellout – has been at Quail Hollow since 2003. In all but two years, it has been sponsored by Wells Fargo or its predecessor, Wachovia.
“The championship has proven to be an incredible branding asset,” said Wells Fargo chief marketing officer Jamie Moldafsky. “We’re delighted we’ll have uninterrupted continuation of one of the tour’s premiere events.”
Several PGA tournaments have struggled to retain title sponsors during recent seasons, including Hilton Head Island, S.C., Innisbrook in Tampa, Fla., and Washington’s Congressional Golf Club.
“This is a big statement for Wells Fargo and Charlotte,” said Ed Kiernan, president of the Engine Shop sports marketing agency. “The tour has lots of title sponsor (contracts) coming up and renewing in this climate has become increasingly difficult. To secure what they have in Charlotte for that length is really impressive.”
The tournament’s new five-year run in Charlotte will be interrupted for one year when Quail Hollow will host the 2017 PGA Championship. Eagle Point, a Tom Fazio designed-course, was one of several potential alternate sites, according to Quail Hollow President Johnny Harris.
“Everybody felt like it would be better for the (Wells Fargo) to go to a different location,” said Harris. “We looked at where to go in the North Carolina market. We looked in Atlanta and certain places up north. The timing of the event made it pretty appropriate to stay close by.”
With Wells Fargo’s most recent five-year deal expiring this year and the PGA Championship’s arrival in 2017, Harris said the bank’s commitment to golf might have waned.
“There was a little bit of concern about how our partner viewed professional golf,” said Harris. “It changed and they now they understand the value of it for their brand. So we now have a situation where the people of Charlotte, our region and North and South Carolina will continue to have the best players in the world come here on an annual basis.”