Monday, August 30, 2010

If The PGA Comes To Quail What About...?

When it becomes official on Tuesday that Quail Hollow will host a future PGA Championship -- most likely in 2017 -- it will answer one question but raise others. Among the question that remain are:

-- What happens to the Wells Fargo Championship?

If Wells Fargo or another corporation wants to keep the tournament going beyond 2014 when the current contract expires, that could happen. But first a sponsor must agree to extend the tournament and that's not likely to happen until after the next round of television negotiations between the PGA Tour and the networks are complete.

The 2014 expiration date is as long as any tour event is locked in right now so the Charlotte event isn't staring at a deadline that other events don't have. Some aren't locked in that long. Greensboro was thrilled last week to announce an extension with Wyndham to 2012.

If the PGA Tour event were to continue, it would have to move at least one year (2017) because of the grass situation. They'll play a full bermuda grass golf course in August for the PGA. They play on overseeded rye in May for the tour event. They can't get the bermuda grown in early enough to play it in May and they can't kill out the rye and get the bermuda in well enough to be ready in August. The solution: Play elsewhere at least one year.

-- What about the greens?

When Phil Mickelson complained about the greens this year, he got the attention of many people. Course architect Tom Fazio has been on site and there are some changes in the works. There will be gentle changes to a couple of greens for next year but more dramatic changes likely down the line.

-- Will Quail stick with bentgrass greens?

Maybe the question is will any course around here stick with bentgrass greens much longer given the way the heat has tortured them this summer. Quail, like other courses, will look at other grasses including the new strains of bermuda. The club has the luxury of growing different grasses on practice greens to see how it does. Right now, getting the disease-plagued greens back in good shape is the priority at Quail Hollow.

-- How will a PGA Championship be different from the Wells Fargo Championship?

There will be more infrastructure, which means more corporate suites, a significnatly expanded merchandise area and, generally, more of just about everything. The PGA of America logo will be prominently displayed, a difference from the understated style of the tour event at Quail Hollow.

There won't be any questions about whether the top players will be at Quail Hollow. The PGA Championship annually has the strongest field of the four majors.