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2017 PGA Championship to stay in Charlotte despite HB2 controversy

James Hahn follows through on a drive from the 17th tee box during the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday, May 8, 2016 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, NC. Hahn defeated Castro in playoff play to win the championship.
James Hahn follows through on a drive from the 17th tee box during the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday, May 8, 2016 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, NC. Hahn defeated Castro in playoff play to win the championship. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

The 2017 PGA Championship tournament is staying in Charlotte, but the organization says it’s evaluating whether it will hold more events in the state while House Bill 2 remains in effect.

The PGA of America announced plans six years ago to hold the event at Quail Hollow Club. But the passage of the controversial law in March has caused sports organizations, performers and others to boycott the state, highlighted by the NBA’s decision Thursday to move the 2017 All-Star Weekend out of Charlotte.

HB2, a reaction to a Charlotte ordinance that extended nondiscrimination protection to LGBT people, mandates that transgender individuals must use the bathrooms in government buildings that correspond to the gender identity on their birth certificates. HB2 also sets a statewide definition of nondiscrimination that excludes gender identity and sexual orientation.

“Since the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte is a private facility not subject to all of the provisions of HB2, at the 2017 PGA Championship we plan to allow spectators to use the restroom that conforms with their gender identity or gender expression,” the PGA said in a statement.

While it isn’t moving the 2017 championship, the PGA said HB2 could pose problems for holding future events in North Carolina.

“Our willingness to consider coming back to the state of North Carolina will be severely impacted unless HB2 is overturned,” the group said.

“The PGA of America strongly opposes North Carolina HB2,” the organization said, adding: “We remain hopeful that the law will be changed.”

So far, more than 44,000 have registered to buy tickets for the event, outpacing any previous PGA Championships at this stage, the tournament has said. Those who have registered can start buying tickets next month.

Johnny Harris, a longtime Charlotte developer and president of Quail Hollow Club, said the 2017 PGA Championship will be a success. It’s scheduled for Aug. 7-13, 2017.

“There’s no question they’re going to be here,” Harris said of the PGA. He declined to talk about the specifics of his discussions with the PGA, saying: “That’s between me and the PGA.”

Harris also criticized the state legislature. While he said he’s not convinced the original Charlotte ordinance was necessary, Harris said the N.C. General Assembly went too far with HB2. Charlotte’s ordinance would have allowed transgender individuals to use the bathroom conforming to their gender identity and added nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.

“I’ve been saying to anyone that would listen to me from the very first day that it’s a train wreck,” said Harris in an interview with the Observer Friday. “Anytime you find yourself or allow yourself to get into a position where discrimination against any human being is part of any legislation, you’ve made a mistake.”

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo

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