Supplied photo by Laurence Lambrecht
No. 16 at Eagle Point Golf Club will be one of holes testing PGA Tour players when the Wells Fargo Championship comes to the private club in May 2017.
For the first time in 46 years, southeastern North Carolina will play host to a Professional Golf Association tournament with Eagle Point Golf Club drawing the Wells Fargo Championship in 2017.
While the annual Wells Fargo tournament is usually played in May at the Quail Hollow Club near Charlotte, that course was selected as the location for the August 2017 PGA Championship.
Such a small window between both tournaments required the Wells Fargo Championship and its executive director Kym Hougham to relocate the tournament that year. Hougham said Eagle Point would serve well as the 2017 tournament site.
“I don’t think we will have any problems with the course,” Hougham said during a Monday, March 24 phone interview. “It is an elite golf course and is in excellent condition all the time for the membership. We wanted to stay in North Carolina or at least in the Southeast and Eagle Point has such a great reputation.”
Hougham said he did not foresee any major alterations to the course’s layout, but the challenge would be in outfitting the course and surrounding areas with necessary infrastructure to accommodate golfers and thousands of spectators in attendance at the tournament.
“We have a lot of logistics to figure out between now and 2017 but luckily we have a lot of time between now and then,” he said. “We know what we need to do, we just have to put all the puzzle pieces together.”
With the tournament set to broadcast to more than 220 countries and territories, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Connie Majure-Rhett said one of the biggest impacts the tournament will have on the greater Wilmington area is the worldwide visibility.
“I think the first thing I focus on is the exposure it is going to provide Wilmington,” Majure-Rhett said. “Many of those people don’t know Wilmington at all and the PGA Tour is really good about not only covering golf but also covering the community that they are in, so I think it is going to be an eye-opener for the world.”
The tournament will also provide real economic impacts for the community, Hougham said, adding that anywhere from -$30-50 million would be spent in the area during the week of the tournament.
Stan Kelly, Wells Fargo Community Banking Regional President of the Carolinas, said another major impact the tournament will have on the community is the money donated to local charities and nonprofit organizations. Since the inaugural event in 2003, the Wells Fargo Championship has donated more than $16 million to organizations like Teach For America Charlotte and The First Tee of Charlotte.
“The tournament is extraordinary for our brand and lets it reach across the world … and it is good for the Carolinas so it is an important investment on a lot of fronts,” Kelly said during a Friday, March 21 phone interview. “Then we are also able to give a lot of money back to the community so we will figure that out over the next few years in terms of what nonprofits in Wilmington will benefit. There are a lot of winners out of this thing.”