More than 50 years ago, when James J. Harris was considering a golf course on a plot of family land used for quail hunting, Arnold Palmer told his friend that if he built the course, Palmer would bring professional golf to Charlotte.
Palmer followed through on his promise and Quail Hollow Club’s legacy now includes champions from Tom Weiskopf to Lee Trevino and Tiger Woods to Rory McIlroy.
The announcement Wednesday that Quail Hollow Club will host the 2021 Presidents Cup matches further entrenches the club’s place among the game’s special venues. With the Wells Fargo Championship set through at least 2019 and the PGA Championship on the way in 2017, the addition of the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow is an enormous compliment to the club and the Charlotte golf community.
This might exceed what Harris envisioned when he created Quail Hollow, but it’s precisely the kind of thing his son, Johnny, has imagined and pursued not just for the club but for the Carolinas.
This is a big deal.
Major championships like the PGA and team events such as the Presidents Cup are special because they bring the world with them.
“I think it’s awesome. I love Quail Hollow,” said five-time majors champion Phil Mickelson, who has played on all 10 U.S. Presidents Cup teams. “I think it will give us a huge home-court advantage. I think it’s a great decision and a wonderful site.”
The Presidents Cup will not be just four days of golf in early fall, the perfect time for golf in the Carolinas. It will be a weeklong celebration that reaches a global audience with the American team facing the best international players (except from Europe). Like the U.S. Opens at Pinehurst have done, the Presidents Cup will embrace and celebrate golf in the Carolinas.
Imagine a U.S. team with Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed and, perhaps, Tiger Woods against Adam Scott, Jason Day, Brendon de Jonge, Hideki Matsuyama and Charl Schwartzel, among others, on the International team.
Look at the names of the previous Presidents Cup captains: Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Greg Norman, Nick Price and Fred Couples among others.
It’s true the Presidents Cup is not the Ryder Cup, but until the Europeans won the Ryder Cup in 1985 the event felt more like an exhibition than a competition with the U.S. losing just once in 52 years in the biennial competition. Then everything changed, and the Ryder Cup became the most compelling event in golf.
The Presidents Cup isn’t there yet, but it has been played only 10 times with the Americans winning eight times and tying the 2003 matches in South Africa. It needs the International team to at least make the matches more competitive – the U.S. has won by at least three points each of the past five matches.
That’s coming, at least it should be.
What does this mean for the Wells Fargo Championship? It’s locked in through 2019, but nothing is certain beyond that. It has been a hugely successful event and will continue to be while the addition of the PGA Championship in two years will be the biggest golf moment in Charlotte history.
If the PGA Championship goes well, and there’s no reason to think it won’t be a blockbuster, it’s likely another one will follow, perhaps two or three years after the Presidents Cup.
What began as one man’s dream and another man’s promise has become a beautiful reality.