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Quail Hollow: A Course Made For The PGA Championship

Tom Fazio, standing before Quail Hollow's 18th hole. align=left

Quail Hollow in south Charlotte will host the PGA Championship in 2017. It's an honor the club has been working toward for the past thirteen years. In 1997, Quail Hollow chose to redesign the course so that it could challenge the world's top pros and accommodate the crowds a major tournament could bring. Quail Hollow's course has been around since the early sixties, but back then it looked pretty different. "It was a golf course that was nice to play and fun to play, but it didn't make the statement and it didn't demand the best players in the world the way it does today," says Johnny Harris, president of the club's Board of Governors. He's also the man who led the charge to make the course a suitable place for a tournament like the PGA Championship. When that's your aim, you call in a guy like golf course designer Tom Fazio. "I've fortunately been involved in the golf business for 38 years and a couple hundred golf courses," says Fazio. He hasn't kept track of how many of them have hosted major golf tournaments, but he says it's been quite a few. Fazio started working on Quail Hollow's course in 1997 and has tweaked it several times since then. "When we were in the planning process we were always thinking about the best players in the world," explains Fazio. "Now that can be a tendency to think hard, but that's not the case. We're not into just hard because we have a membership that plays this golf course." It's not just the rigor of the course that places a course in the running for a major tournament. Think of accommodating 50,000 spectators every day for a week, 46 TV production trucks, dining pavilions, gift tents, and bathrooms. It's not just a golf course Fazio designed, but the foundation of a small city. "We've taken that hole--it was a par 5--moved the green back 40 yards. Now it's a par 4 and all of that became an event lawn," says Fazio pointing to the ninth hole. Fazio will likely make a few small changes to the course before the PGA Championship arrives to make everything fit just so. The course's crown jewel is the 18th hole which stretches from just below the clubhouse's porch to the lake that surrounds the green of the 17th hole. Fazio created that lake, got rid of another one nearby, and installed a creek down the fairway. But he also made sure there was enough room for spectators. "It's just not an accident," says Fazio, surveying the hole. "This nice, grassy hill that slopes around the fairway and the green and all around the left side of it--this is a major championship finishing golf hole in terms of its beauty, in terms of its strength, its playability and also from its viewing standpoint." That's the way it was planned and seven years from now that's finally what it will be.