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Nine Things to Know about Quail Hollow Club

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Nine Things to Know about Quail Hollow Club


    Written by Jeff Babineau @JeffBabz62

    Quail Hollow Club course preview for Presidents Cup


    Charlotte’s Quail Hollow Club adds to its legacy with the playing of this week’s Presidents Cup. The competition pits 12 players from the U.S. Team, captained by North Carolina-born Davis Love III, against 12 from the International Team (rest of the world outside of Europe), captained by 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman of South Africa.

    The format is match play, and the first round is Thursday.

    The U.S. is 11-1-1 all-time, and the International Team hasn’t won on the road.

    Here are Nine Things to Know about the venerable host Quail Hollow:

    1. IN THE BEGINNING ...

    On June 3, 1961, the Charlotte News uncovered what had been one of the great hidden secrets of the South, constructed beyond fences upon land that was the old Morrocroft Farm in southern Charlotte. The curtain was pulled back on Quail Hollow Club.

    Columnist Ronald Green (whose son, Ron Jr., followed him into the golf-writing business) got an early glimpse and called Quail Hollow “a magnificent golf course that has all the qualities to be a great one.” As the legend goes, tee times at nearby Charlotte Country Club were getting difficult to secure, necessitating another top-notch facility in the Charlotte golf lineup.

    Quail Hollow sits on what once was the largest dairy farm in North Carolina and was named for the abundance of quail that could be found on the property (Quail Hollow club president Johnny Harris used to hunt there). The course was designed by George Cobb and constructed upon 270 acres once owned by Cameron Marsh, who gave it to his daughter, who was married to James J. Harris, Johnny’s father, who would become one of the club’s founding members.

    James Harris was friends with Arnold Palmer, and his son Johnny enjoyed a 45-year friendship with Palmer, as well. Johnny Harris was a key figure in the resurgence of the club near the turn of this century, executing a long-term plan to improve the golf course and enhance the club. (The Harris family legacy at Quail Hollow continues with Johno Harris, Johnny’s son, who is 2022 Presidents Cup Chair as well as Chair for the Wells Fargo Championship.)

    There was no clubhouse when Quail Hollow opened in 1961, but there was a pool – James Harris’ wife wanted it to be a family club – and just a small golf shop. Cobb was a South Carolina architect who had completed a nine-hole par-3 course at Augusta National. According to a club historian, Cobb was not on the grounds for the completion of Quail Hollow; members helped to finish the course to get it ready for its opening in 1961.

    2. COMPARISONS TO A GEORGIA NEIGHBOR

    Quail Hollow is a stately, private facility of roughly 350 members, and features a big, brawny course and some of the biggest, most majestic trees you’ll ever see. The beautiful, southern-style clubhouse has oak floors, 15 fireplaces, a grand ballroom, and a card room for rainy days.

    The club loves its traditions, and generously salutes its champions. The overall feel of the property conjures thoughts of a special club down the road a few hours in Georgia, Augusta National. Still, Quail Hollow, in its earliest days, seemed to shy away from early comparisons to Augusta National Golf Club, home to the Masters since 1934.

    Jack Crist Jr., Quail Hollow’s first Greens Chairman, tried to dispel some myths as the club opened in 1961. He told the Charlotte News that it would have a local, not national membership, and would stand on its own. “Augusta National is the best example in the South to follow in many ways, but we have not attempted to make our course another National,” Crist said.

    Quail Hollow becomes the fourth U.S. club outside of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia (1994, 1996, 2000 and 2005) to play host to the Presidents Cup. The other three: Harding Park Golf Club (San Francisco), Muirfield Village (Dublin, Ohio) and Liberty National Golf Club (Jersey City, N.J.). The 2026 Presidents Cup will be played at Medinah, in Chicago, and in 2030 the event will be played at Bellerive, in St. Louis.

    3. THE MEN AND THEIR ARENA

    The opening hole at Quail once was but a gentle handshake, a friendly par 4 that eased a player into a round, but after an extensive reworking by architect Tom Fazio a few years back, players today start by basically playing from the first tee to what used to be the second green. And the theater-like seating around the 520-plus-yard par 4 opener is sure to bring jitters.

    “That first hole, you’d better have your game going before you hit it,” Johnny Harris said when the hole debuted ahead of the 2017 PGA Championship, the club’s first major.

    For the Presidents Cup, that first tee shot will be hit from the center of a giant, horseshoe-like stadium enclosure. To get there, players will walk from their respective team areas through a massive two-story enclosure that will make them feel as if they’re in the glory days of Rome.

    The structure is two stories, with room for corporate partners on the ground floor and 2,500 fans in the stands on top. It will be festive and fun, as always, with spirited support, patriotic costumes, and lots of songs for both the U.S. and International squads.

    “We’re in for a remarkable Presidents Cup,” PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan said. “... I've got to tell you, the way that Charlotte has responded, 500,000 square feet of hospitality space, that's more than we have at THE PLAYERS; 40,000 people a day; a first tee experience like you've never seen before ... I think we are going to have an awesome competition.”

    4. QUAIL’S STRONG COMPETITION CHOPS

    Fans know Quail Hollow as host of the Wells Fargo Championship each spring since 2003, but its history of professional events with golf’s biggest names traces back decades.

    In 1969, Quail Hollow began hosting a fledgling second-year TOUR event called the Kemper Open. Dale Douglass was the venue’s first champion. Victors across the decades at Quail Hollow would include Tom Weiskopf (three times), Raymond Floyd, Doug Sanders – who collected his 20th and final PGA TOUR title in 1972 – and long-hitting Andy Bean, among others.

    Quail Hollow was home to the Kemper for 10 years before the tournament moved north to Congressional C.C. in the nation’s capital in 1980. Quail Hollow then hosted the World Seniors Invitational for 10 years, with winners like Gene Littler (twice) and Gary Player.

    Tom Fazio oversaw course changes in the 1990s, and as a new century neared there was a growing desire to show off the property and stage another PGA TOUR event. Enter the 2003 Wachovia Championship, which became the Wells Fargo Championship. (With the Presidents Cup on tap, this year’s Wells Fargo was moved to TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, with Max Homa, a rookie on this week’s U.S. Presidents Cup Team, prevailing in wind and rain.)

    Quail Hollow also played host to the PGA Championship in 2017, its first major, and will host another in 2025. This is the first time the club has been the host site for the Presidents Cup.

    5. REMEMBERING TOM TERRIFIC

    Tom Weiskopf nearly didn’t show up to the 1977 Kemper Open, though by then he was already a two-time winner at Quail Hollow. He had endured a brutal finish at the Memorial Tournament two weeks earlier, shooting an 82, after which he’d told his wife that he needed some time off. Weiskopf, who passed away earlier this year, said he was frustrated and confused.

    He decided to play, though, and was happy he did. He fell behind by three shots at one point on Sunday, but three other contenders – Bill Rogers, Doug Tewell and George Burns – had yet to win on TOUR. Weiskopf was convinced his experience could make a difference, and it did. He shot 70 and beat Burns and Rogers by two shots.

    Not until Rory McIlroy in 2021 would another PGA TOUR pro become a three-time champion at Quail Hollow. In Weiskopf’s first victory there, in 1971, he birdied the final four holes of regulation and defeated Douglass, Lee Trevino and Gary Player with a birdie on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff. He won again in 1973. He was also a two-time runner-up at Quail.

    By the time he won the Kemper in 1977, the temperamental Weiskopf was trying to soften his image and rid himself of a reputation as “Terrible Tom.”

    “I hope these things have ended,” he told reporters. “I know I have disappointed myself as well as a lot of my friends. It’s just that I’m not happy when I’m playing bad. I’m a moody, depressed, angry individual when I’m playing bad, and I take it out on one person – me.”

    At Quail, he forever will be remembered as Tom Terrific.

    6. NEW HOME FOR GREEN MILE

    Quail Hollow has one of golf’s most well-known signature finishes in holes 16-18, a three-hole gauntlet dubbed “The Green Mile.” Standing on the tee at the par-4 16th with a one-shot lead and needing three pars to secure the trophy can be one of the game’s toughest challenges.

    The problem: Many matches end before even reaching those holes. At the 2019 Presidents Cup in Australia, all 30 matches reached the 15th green, while only 12 got to the finishing hole.

    To ensure they remain integral to the matches, the Green Mile holes have been moved up in the routing and will play as holes 13-15. Formerly the 16th hole, the 13th will be a 506-yard, dogleg-right par 4. Formerly the 17th hole, the 14th will be a 223-yard par 3 with water. Formerly the finishing hole, the 15th will play as a 494-yard par 4 with a creek down the entire left side.

    The reimagined routing at Quail Hollow is achieved by sending players from the green at the risk/reward, drivable par-4 eighth hole directly over to what is normally the tee at No. 12, a par 4 that this week rounds out the opening nine. The usual par-3 13th hole, short 14th (potentially drivable 4) and reachable par-5 15th will serve as holes 10-12, delivering players to the crucial three-hole stretch of the Green Mile, where pars could win holes in a foursomes format.

    Matches going the distance will bring in the original 10th hole, now the 16th hole, which at 592 yards is the course’s longest par 5; the original 11th and now 17th hole, a 462-yard, dogleg-left par 4 with bunkers protecting left side off the tee shot and approach; and the original ninth hole turned 18th hole, a 505-yard par 4 made more stout by Fazio’s work.

    7. LOCAL TIES FOR CAPTAIN LOVE

    Davis Love III, a 21-time winner on the PGA TOUR, will captain the U.S. team after twice being captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team (he lost as a captain in 2012, and won in 2016).

    Love, 58, was born in Charlotte, as his dad, Davis Jr., was head golf professional at Charlotte Country Club. The Loves would move to Atlanta in 1965 when Davis Jr., who welcomed the oldest of his two sons into the world after competing in the final round of the 1964 Masters, accepted a job at Atlanta Country Club, where he taught until 1977.

    Davis Jr. won the 1962 Carolinas PGA and 1964 Carolinas Open, but he and three others were on the way to a teaching seminar when they were killed in a 1988 plane crash approaching Jacksonville International Airport in the fog.

    Davis III would become a three-time All-America at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he won an ACC Championship. He also helped introduce a member of the basketball team, Michael Jordan, to golf. (Jordan’s teammate Buzz Peterson would also tag along.)

    “He’s a Tar Heel at heart,” U.S. Presidents Cup Assistant Zach Johnson said of Love III.

    Love has been part of the Presidents Cup from the start, competing in the first six editions. To captain a team in North Carolina is extra special, and he expects to see Jordan in the team room.

    “The Carolinas mean so much to me and my family, and it’s humbling to know that I will return to Charlotte in this new role to help carry on the rich sports tradition the Queen City has developed through the years,” Love said.

    8. A SNOWMAN TO REMEMBER

    Quail Hollow’s traditional 18th hole, the 15th this week, is where good rounds often die.

    At 494 yards, the hole demands precision off the tee (a creek on the left must be avoided) to produce a good angle into a green that is protected by water on the left and bunkers. The hole is a bear, an annual stalwart on the PGA TOUR’s list of toughest finishing holes.

    At the inaugural Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) Championship in 2003, David Toms stepped to the tee at the closing hole in complete command – or so it seemed – with a six-shot lead. He pushed his tee shot 50 yards right; punched back into play but through the fairway, short of the creek; hit his third shot short of the green; and hit a poor pitch to the green, some 45 feet from the hole. Four putts later, Toms had made a quadruple-bogey 8.

    He still won by two shots but was somewhat dizzy when the trophy ceremony rolled around.

    “They’re going to stick it to me a little bit for the way I finished,” Toms said. “But that’s fine. I can take it. I got the trophy and that big check.”

    9. QUAIL TAMERS, CAROLINA LOVERS

    To date, the biggest competition at Quail Hollow was the club’s first major, the 2017 PGA Championship. (The club will host another PGA in 2025.) The winner that week was Justin Thomas, who finished with a 3-under 68 to win by two. Thomas, who added his second major title earlier this year, will be looked upon as one of the leaders on this year’s U.S. team.

    Max Homa is a Presidents Cup rookie but a Quail Hollow veteran. He captured his first PGA TOUR title there in 2019, winning the Wells Fargo by three shots. Homa now has four TOUR victories, including the 2022 Wells Fargo, played at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm.

    Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, the top-ranked player on the International Team, tied for fifth at the 2017 PGA. American Kevin Kisner, who is playing in his second Presidents Cup, also spent time in contention on Sunday at that PGA before he tied for seventh.

    Webb Simpson, in his first stint as an assistant on the U.S. team, will be somebody that Captain Davis Love III can rely upon for advice. A Charlotte resident and a member at Quail Hollow, Simpson knows the layout well. He was a runner-up at the 2015 Wells Fargo Championship.

    Love was a frequent competitor at Quail Hollow, his best finish being a T-14 in 2006. That was the year International Team Captain Trevor Immelman tied Jim Furyk in regulation but lost to him on the first hole of a playoff. Immelman now gets a third perspective on the venue, having approached the course both as a competitor and a television analyst for CBS.

    One other player who should feel very good about being back in North Carolina is Korea’s Joohyung “Tom” Kim, a rookie on the International team. In August, across the state in Greensboro, Kim closed with a round of 61 to win his first PGA TOUR title at the Wyndham Championship. It secured his TOUR card for two years, as well as a spot on this year’s International team, where he will be its youngest competitor. The 20-year-old was the second-youngest winner on TOUR since World War II.

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