Thursday, August 11, 2011

PGA Championship Becoming A Part Of The Carolinas

   Among the decorations greeting guests to the PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club are several banners celebrating future sites of the year's final major championship.

   One reads, 2012 Kiawah Island. Another reads, 2017 Quail Hollow.

   Pretty cool if you live in the Carolinas and you're into golf. And that doesn't count the dual U.S. Opens coming to Pinehurst in 2014.

   A year from now, Kiawah Island's Ocean Course will be on the world stage again, 21 years after its stunning debut at the 1991 Ryder Cup matches. It's a different course now, some of its wild edges tamed but it's still one of the most dramatic settings in golf. If the wind blows -- and since it's likely to be over 90 degreees each day it had better blow -- it could be a supreme test.

   Kiawah officials have had great success selling the championship. They've already sold 94 percent of the tickets and expect to be sold out once they reopn the registration list Sunday evening to fill the final six percent of tickets. They made the wise move of reducing spectator capacity to 30,000 per day, well below the gallery size at most majors.

   Corporate support has been extremely strong and there's every reason to believe the championship will be a big success.

   Six years from now, it will be at Quail Hollow. It's a long time but not that long. Officials from the Wells Fargo Championship have been in Atlanta this week getting the lay of the land, studying the infrastructure that will be required. It's a substantially larger than what a regular tour event requires.

   There are changes coming to Quail Hollow for the PGA. There will be bermuda grass on the greens by then and there will likely be some tweaks made to the layout.

   There's also the inevitable question about the future of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. That's a decision to be made down the road.