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Hospitality tents going fast for 2017 PGA Championship

Sales of hospitality tents are off to a fast start, says Jason Mengel, tournament director for the PGA Championship that will be played in Charlotte at the Quail Hollow Club in August 2017.
Sales of hospitality tents are off to a fast start, says Jason Mengel, tournament director for the PGA Championship that will be played in Charlotte at the Quail Hollow Club in August 2017. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

After directing last summer’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, Jason Mengel didn’t have much time to savor the accomplishment.

That’s because he and his family were off to Charlotte, where his next task is to run the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club.

“It’s usually a two-year assignment,” Mengel said of his role hopscotching from one golf event to the next for the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, the organization that puts on the PGA Championship.

In Charlotte, one of his first duties has been selling hospitality venues that local and national companies will use to host customers and clients during the tournament, one of four major championships on the annual golf calendar. Sales have been so strong that the tournament is already looking at adding more locations, Mengel, 37, said.

With the event more than a year away, “we are looking at expansion plans for hospitality venues,” he said. “That’s almost unheard of at this point. It’s a great response from the corporate community here in Charlotte and of course regionally and nationally.”

More than 100 companies are expected to host guests during the competition in August 2017. The hospitality options range from $40,000 for 10 tickets in the “Champions Club” to $500,000 to host 150 guests at a 17th green village. The packages include food and beverage, preferred parking and other perks.

The hospitality tents will be familiar to those who have attended the Wells Fargo Championship, the Quail Hollow PGA Tour stop that will take a one-year hiatus in 2017. But there will be some differences, including new locations and more air conditioning because of the August time slot, Mengel said.

This fall, the tournament will construct two of the 100-person chalets on the course, so companies can get a preview of what the locations will look like, said Lauren Ries, marketing and promotions manager. “They can come out and see the product and what they can do with it,” Ries said.

In addition to the PGA staff preparing for the tournament, there is also a local organizing committee headed by general chairman Ralph Breeden, president of The Woodbury Group, an executive search firm. Dozens of volunteers are already heading up committees addressing various aspects of the tournament.

“Our primary job initially is to get hospitality sales going,” Breeden said. “There is a lot of interest. It’s a major championship. They don’t come around very often.”

During the event, around 200,000 fans are expecting to attend, with around 40,000 per day on the course during each of the four days of competition. Of those daily attendees, about 2,500 to 3,500 will attend on hospitality tickets.

For those looking to buy tickets, the PGA Championship will launch its pre-registration process in mid-May, after this year’s Wells Fargo Championship is completed. About 50,000 pre-registered for the 2015 PGA Championship.

To those who pre-register, tickets will then go on sale on Aug. 1, after this year’s PGA Championship is played at the Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey. “Then the clock is ticking,” Mengel said.

Prices haven’t been finalized, but daily grounds passes for Thursday through Sunday at the 2016 event range from $90 to $115, depending on the day.

The PGA Championship currently has a staff of five at its Quail Hollow office. That number will grow to eight by next spring. Overall, the tournament and its service providers will create about 1,100 temporary jobs for the event, handling everything from on-course construction to security to catering.

The tournament will also need 3,400 volunteers to help with various chores during the competition.

Once the tournament ends, the PGA Championship office will stay around for a couple of months to tie up loose ends, Mengel said. Then it’s off to his next stop: Back to Whistling Straits for the 2020 Ryder Cup.

Rick Rothacker: 704-358-5170, @rickrothacker

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