In a little over 19 months some of the premiere names in the world of golf will be arriving for the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship, giving Wilmington and Eagle Point Golf Club in Porters Neck a unique opportunity to showcase itself to the game’s international fanbase.
As preparations continue for event, which is set for May 1-7, 2017, tournament and club officials were on site Thursday to set the building blocks for the first PGA Tour-sanctioned competition in the area since 1971.
“There’s a lot of planning going on right now and lots of things to be ironed out leading up the event, but we just want to say that we’re extremely excited about coming to Wilmington and to announce that tickets will go on sale next month,” said Kym Hougham, executive director of the Wells Fargo Championship. “Tickets are limited so we encourage fans to purchase early as we work to make sure this is a pleasurable experience for our fans and this community.”
Tickets go on sale October 12 and can be purchased at www.wellsfargochampionship.com. While logistics continue to take shape from renovations to the course itself to how fans will be transported to and from the club, ticket sales are expected reach somewhere between $25,000 to $30,000 per day before the event is sold out.
Tournament officials estimate the 72-hole event will have an estimated $40-60 million dollar impact for the Wilmington area.
“We believe this event is going to be very beneficial to the Wilmington area,” Hougham added. “Thursday and Friday of the tournament will be broadcast on the Golf Channel, with third and final round coverage on Saturday and Sunday to be nationally televised on CBS. Our tournament is broadcast to one billion households in 225 different countries.”
Parking and round-trip shuttle service from the tournament-authorized lots, which are still yet to be determined, will be free for the tournament. The move to come to the Wilmington area for the Wells Fargo event was made as Quail Hollow Golf Club in Charlotte serves host to the 2017 PGA Championship. Following the local event, The Wells Fargo Championship will return to the Queen City as Wells Fargo remains title sponsor of the tournament through 2019.
Mac Everett, general chairman of the Wells Fargo Championship, also touched on the charitable aspect of the event’s non-profit host organization, Champions for Education. This 501(c)3 manages and operates the tournament and has raised over $18 million since 2003.
“We’ve begun conversations about the where the charitable dollars will go and it will stay in Wilmington,” Everett said. “We should have an announcement regarding that by early next year, but the dollars will remain in this community.”
The last PGA event to be held in Wilmington was the Azalea Open at the Cape Fear Country Club in 1970. Over the years, The Wells Fargo Championship, formerly known as the Wachovia Championship, has become a hot bed for some of golf’s top players and one of golf’s more popular non-major events.
In May 2015, Rory McIlroy became the tournament’s first multiple champion with a dominating performance at Quail Hollow. Past champions include: David Toms (2003), Vijay Singh (2005), Jim Furyk (2006), Tiger Woods (2007), Anthony Kim (2008), Lucas Glover (2011), Rickie Fowler (2012) and J.B. Holmes (2014).
Golfers will commit to the event in the weeks leading up to the May 2017 tournament, but Cecil Worsley, representative for Eagle Point Golf Club, believes the word is already beginning to spread throughout the tour thanks to a pair of professionals who are talking up the course and the Wilmington area.
“There are a lot of things that have been happening to the course over the past year and a half, including tee extensions and more to come as it continues to take shape,” said Worsley. “We’re super proud to be able to host this tournament. There’s a lot of buzz out there. Two of our pros on the tour, Webb Simpson and Carl Petterson, have really been pumping up the area.
“Just the exposure to Wilmington and how excited we are, I think this will be one of the biggest, if not the biggest event ever to come to the area from an international television standpoint so we’re going to do everything we can to make this a huge success.”
Eagle Point is a Tom Fazio-designed course that opened in 2000 and has been ranked among the Golf Digest America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses six straight years.
For more information on how volunteer for the tournament, log onto www.wellsfargochampionship.com.