ASGCA Past President Tom Marzolf (Fazio Golf Course Designers, Inc.) and Senior Design Associate Blake Bickford responded to questions via Twitter July 26, discussing Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, North Carolina, host to the 2017 PGA Championship, Aug. 10-13.
Following is a transcript of the chat with golf fans.
Q: Can you talk about the rich history and design of Quail Hollow Club?
A: George Cobb, ASGCA, designed course which first opened in 1961. We still use the same fairway corridors today. Though the greens are certainly larger.
Q: Quail Hollow opened in 1961. When did Fazio Golf Course Designers first work on the golf course?
A: The first visit was in 1993, the initial steps in preparation for a 1996 renovation. That renovation impacted about 25% of course. For example, the 9th green was within 30′ of clubhouse; that’s valuable real estate! So, we moved the golf away a bit from the clubhouse.
Q: Were any additional specific updates made to Quail Hollow after the PGA Championship was awarded to the club?
A: The Master Plan that was implemented years ago at the course is still in use. Over time, there have been updates to the greens, grasses, bunkers, etc. in 2016 there was a redesign of four holes following the PGA Tour event; Bermuda grass was planted on greens and bunker sand was replaced.
Q: Does that means golfers will compete on a dramatically different course than before?
A: Yes, certainly on the front 9. Hole No. 1 was lengthened by 100 yards; No. 2 was removed completely and the course routing greatly improved.
Q: Is there a signature hole at Quail Hollow Club?
A: The final several holes are known as the “Green Mile.” It is a tough way to finish. No. 18 has a number of fairway angles, bunker on the right is in play, as is the creek on the left.
Q: “Firm and fast” greens is the case at recent majors. Will this be the case at Quail Hollow?
A: Champion Bermuda grass will keep the greens firm and fast. Originally, the course was planted with 328 Bermuda; now we use 419 Bermuda.
Q: If I’m watching the PGA Championship from home, what should I focus on to better enjoy the tournament?
A: Quail Hollow has great character, with undulations throughout the course, leading to variety of shots. Water on both the front and back 9 makes the entire course a challenge. Every golfer in the field has the ability to shoot low scores one day at Quail Hollow, but they might stall out on other days.
Q: What has been the Master Plan philosophy at Quail Hollow?
A: The focus has been on continuing the quality facility that goes back to the days of the Kemper Open PGA Tour event in the 1970s. The Club has evolved as the game has evolved to stay current, keeping up with technology and advances in clubs and grasses. The growth of the renewed PGA Tour event has allowed Championships to grow.
Q: What is the future for Quail Hollow beyond the PGA Championship?
A: The PGA Tour returns with the Wells Fargo Championship in 2018. And in 2021, Quail Hollow will host the Presidents Cup.
Q: No pressure on you gentlemen to predict the winning score, but Ron Whitten (one of the golf course architects at Erin Hills) called the U.S. Open score on the number!
A: The PGA sets up scoring for their championship. Traditionally -10 or -12 would be a good score.
Q: Any other holes of interest for the TV viewers?
A: No. 14 could be set up as a driveable par 4. Water is in play to varying degrees on Holes 14-18; which should make it dramatic for the players and fun to watch for viewers.
Q: Any additional thoughts on the PGA Championship?
A: Tom Fazio has a long-term relationship with the PGA; he has now been involved in four of the past 20 PGA Championships.