Cover Story: PGA Championship - Charlotte Coup

By Jeff Atkinson - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It's official.  Charlotte will host one of golf's premiere events, the PGA Championship, in 2017.

A who's who of North Carolina dignitaries and high rollers were all in one room on Tuesday for the big announcement.

Even the big cat, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was there.  And with good reason. This is on par with the Super Bowl.

There aren't many events bigger than this.  Some have called it the Wachovia Championship on steroids.  Bigger than the Super Bowl, that's a mostly American event, the PGA Championship features international players and attracts a worldwide audience.

And it's coming to the Queen City and to the Quail Hollow Club.

"Saints have won the Super Bowl."

Though Charlotte may never attract a Super Bowl it has landed what some might consider the next best thing.

One of professional golf's four majors:  The PGA Championship.

"The most eagerly anticipated announcement in our nearly 100 year history," said Joe Steranka, Chief Executive Officer of the PGA of America.

In a room full of the biggest of the big whigs, the announcement made official Tuesday.  The tournament will be here in seven years.

"We've all got skin in this game and I'm as proud of this win as I am of anything I've done as governor," said NC Gov. Bev Perdue.

Grander than the Quail Hollow Championship which draws fans from the southeast, the PGA Championship attracts a fan base from around the world.

And will require officials to build a temporary tent city for 50,000 people for the week.  They'll need urban transportation, security, restaurants and power plant built on temporary grounds to accommodate the crowds.

It's something Quail Hollow Club President Johnny Harris has wanted for a long time.

"It's the obvious culmination of if you're going to be in the golf business you want to have one of the major tournaments. And that's what we've done," says Harris.

What happens to PGA Tour event the club hosts each May.. what was the Wachovia, then the Quail Hollow and next year will be called the Wells Fargo Championship?

2014 will likely be the last year.  The club can't do both, says organizer Mac Everett.  "It's improbably at best particularly because of May you play on one type of grass transitional grass. And you plan on another type of grass.. I think that is pretty improbable."

A PGA Championship could pump up to $85 million into the Charlotte region's economy.  The tournament is watched in 200 countries with a worldwide audience of 430 million homes.

In the audience Tuesday Jerry Richardson, the man who helped put Charlotte on the map 17 years ago with an NFL franchise.  Could it have played a role in landing the PGA Championship?  "The NFL is the number 1 sport in America by a wide margin. and I would imagine that would have to have some positive influence on that," says Richardson.

What's Charlotte's next big catch?  How about landing the big to host the Democratic National Convention in 2012?

The mayor can use this to win points.  "It's great to have an announcement like this because what it says is that.. it's a validator. It says that this area is continuing to grow and we're going to be strong in 2017," says Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx.

This will be only the third time the PGA Championship has been in North Carolina.  It was at Pinehurst in the 1930s and at Tanglewood Golf Club in Winston-Salem in '74.

There has never been a major in Charlotte.

Did the state offer economic incentives?  No, but it did promise to help with things like marketing and promotion, crowd control, security issues.  That's still all to be worked out.

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