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PGA TOUR MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 18, 2014
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:¬† Good morning to all the members of the media joining us on the call, and thank you for participating in today's teleconference.
On the call with me today are PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem; Wells Fargo Championship Chief Marketing Officer, Jamie Moldafsky; Wells Fargo Championship Executive Director, Kym Hougham; Quail Hollow Club President Johnny Harris; and Eagle Point Golf Club, president Bobby Long.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:¬† Thanks, Joel, and good morning everyone.¬† We are excited about this announcement today.¬† As we look back since its debut in 2003 at Quail Hollow, the Wells Fargo Championship has made so much progress.¬† It's clearly and quickly established itself as a favorite tournament among the players.¬† It's enjoyed because of that a great field every single year we've played.
It's been an opportunity to showcase Charlotte's passion for world‑class golf and the tournaments year‑in and year‑out has had a huge impact through its charitable initiatives on the community.
I think the strength and growth is also a credit to the commitment of this partnership.¬† Certainly Wells Fargo itself have been from the get‑go a great and involved title sponsor.¬† The personal investment of the members at Quail Hollow, led by Johnny Harris and the work they have done with the golf course, the common areas, reaching out to the community; they are really a model of how an organization can make this kind of tournament happen; and also the leadership of Kym Hougham of his team in the management year‑in and year‑out has been superb.
And for all of those reasons, we are delighted to announce today that this partnership and this same formula will now continue to 2019 as Wells Fargo has extended its sponsorship of the Championship for five more years; and the membership at Quail Hollow have agreed to continue to host it, and we are delighted that everybody is going to continue to be involved.
Certainly want to thank Jamie, who is on the call, and Wells Fargo for their commitment going forward, and in particular their support of The First Tee in recent years through the Succeeding Together Program.¬† Their involvement in The First Tee has been innovative and really impactful for The First Tee, what it's all about.
In addition to this extension, we have one other significant announcement to make regarding the Wells Fargo Championship, and that is that I think everybody knows who has been‑‑ ever since The PGA of America and Quail agreed to bring the PGA Championship to Quail Hollow in 2017.¬† There's been a lot of speculation about what we would do with the tournament.
We are delighted to announce that in 2017 the Wells Fargo Championship will be held at Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, North Carolina.
While we are looking forward, of course, to coming back in 2018, we are fortunate to have such an outstanding facility as Eagle Point serve as our home in 2017.¬† It's a terrific Tom Fazio designed golf course.
I want to thank club president, Bobby Long, for his leadership and drive to make that happen.¬† Bobby, of course, has been the driving force at the Wyndham Championship since its inception.¬† He's also on a national trustee of The First Tee Program and on the board of The First Tee, so it's a great fit all around.
And I'd also just like to throw in a personal comment.¬† I'm excited about going to Eagle Point because when I was eight years old, I attended my first professional golf tournament with my father in Wilmington, North Carolina, the old Azalea Open, and got to watch Arnold Palmer for the first time and the first time I saw him was live.¬† So I'm doubly excited and look forward to being there in Wilmington in 2017.
From a PGA TOUR perspective, we think the future is really bright for this tournament.¬† We have a great title sponsor.¬† Quail Hollow has turned out to be a phenomenally exciting place to be, and I would like to say that the galleries are so sizable, knowledgeable and involved in the tournament that I don't know of any place on TOUR that is any better.
It makes for a great experience for our players, and on behalf of the players, I'd just like to thank Johnny and everybody at Wells Fargo for their continued partnership.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:¬† Thank you, Commissioner.¬† I'd like to reintroduce Jamie Moldafsky, Chief Marketing Officer of Wells Fargo for her comments.
JAMIE MOLDAFSKY:¬† Thank you, Joel, and thank you Commissioner Finchem for those kind words.
We totally echo your sentiments that we are very excited about the renewal of the sponsorship.¬† And getting here took an incredible amount of hard work from the folks on this call and countless others, and we thank you all, because we are delighted that we will have uninterrupted continuation of, as you said, one of the PGA TOUR's premiere events.
The Championship for us has proven to be an incredible brand building asset, but also plays a really important role obviously for Wells Fargo in our community in Charlotte, and we are thrilled about Eagle Point, as well.
As you said, dating back to 2003, the Championship continued to play an important role as we introduced the Wells Fargo brand on the East Coast a few years ago.¬† So we are very thrilled to continue to have this great national showcase for us.¬† We are very excited, as well, for the community in Wilmington and look forward to working with them in the future as we plan for the 2017 Wells Fargo there.
One thing I did want to mention is that we are very proud as part of our sponsorship renewal to announce the national expansion of our Succeeding Together community program with The First Tee organization.¬† We are launching our second national video essay contest for teenage participants of The First Tee, and are offering grand prize winners a chance to play in our Wednesday Pro‑Am event at this year's Wells Fargo Championship.
We are also extending the Succeeding Together community program at several other regional golf tournaments this year, as we encourage the students of The First Tee to celebrate the coaches in their lives and how those relationships have held them towards achieving their goals.
Again I want to thank Commissioner Finchem, the PGA TOUR, Johnny Harris, the entire Quail Hollow Club, Kym and his incredible tournament organization, and Kendall Alley and the rest of our Wells Fargo team, who have worked tirelessly to get this deal done and to set us all up for continued success through the end of the decade.¬† We are thrilled to continue the partnership,¬† thank you.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:¬† For comments from the host organization, Kym Hougham, Executive Director of the Wells Fargo Championship is on the line.
KYM HOUGHAM:¬† Thank you, Joel.¬† An announcement like this cannot be accomplished without the time and effort from the organizations, and I would like thank Jamie and her Wells Fargo team for their support, friendship and dedication over the years, as we work towards our new future together.
Thank you to Commissioner Finchem and the PGA TOUR for their tremendous efforts on our behalf, not only on this agreement, but also over the last 12 years; to the Quail Hollow Club and Mr. Harris, Johnny, for their continued support and partnership; and to Eagle Point Golf Club and Bobby Long for joining this great team and inviting us to play in Wilmington in 2017.¬† We are so pleased that the membership of these two great facilities are going to be hosting the Wells Fargo Championship from 2015 to 2019.
Finally, thank you to my incredibly talented staff who puts their hearts and souls into this tournament 365 days a year and a special thank you to Mac Everett, our volunteer tournament chairman for his dedication, direction and countless hours that he spent with me in preparation for this day.
As we celebrate this announcement today, we celebrate with a great many people; not just Wells Fargo, the PGA TOUR, Quail Hollow Club and Eagle Point Golf Club, but also the citizens of Charlotte, Wilmington and their surrounding area, are hundreds of thousands of spectators who attend the tournament each year and our corporate hospitality sponsors; our 2,300‑plus volunteers, many of which are wells Fargo member teams, as well as our charities that benefit each year from the tournament proceeds; the Wells Fargo Championship charity donations have totalled over $16 million since the inception of the tournament.
Wells Fargo has been a wonderful title sponsor over the years and we appreciate their support, commitment and recognizing that together, we have created a tournament that has a reputation for excellence in all aspects, not only in Charlotte, but worldwide.¬† We look forward to carrying on this tradition through 2019 with them.¬† Thank you, Joel.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:¬† For comments from the Quail Hollow Club, Mr.Johnny Harris, club president.
JOHNNY HARRIS:¬† Thanks, Joel.¬† Let me say that on behalf of the Board of Governors of Quail Hollow Club and our membership, how excited all of us at Quail Hollow are to continue our relationship with Wells Fargo, the PGA TOUR and the Champions For Education as we extend Wells Fargo's Championship through 2019.
There have been many exciting moments since 2003, and all of us involved in the tournament look forward to growing traditions that Kym and Mac Everett and his team have set as a standard for the TOUR itself.
We are also excited about the improvement that is we have made in the golf course over the last year, particularly, and also the impact it will have on the experience that the players and patrons alike will have with the club.
Tom Fazio designed a great golf course, one that we thought would be competitive, and as it turned out, it's been a real challenge for the best players in the world when they come back every year to Charlotte.¬† We appreciate again the PGA TOUR's involvement, we appreciate Wells Fargo's support of the event, but most of all we really are excited about bringing the golfers back to North Carolina again through 2019.¬† Thank you.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:¬†¬† Thank you very much.¬† And now, Bobby Long, president of Eagle Point Golf Club for his comments about the Wells Fargo Championship going to Eagle Point in 2017.
BOBBY LONG:¬† On behalf of Eagle Point we are so appreciative to have the opportunity to work with the Wells Fargo team who I have personally known for a long time and admire greatly, and hosting the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship, we are so fortunate to have an opportunity to showcase Wilmington, North Carolina to the world and bottom line, we are going to knock it out of the park.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:¬† One final note, there will be two media opportunities tomorrow for one‑on‑one interviews with Wells Fargo Championship and tournament officials in both Charlotte and Wilmington.¬† The first will take place at the Atrium of 2 Wells Fargo Building in uptown Charlotte at 11:00 Eastern, and the Wilmington event will be held at 3:00 PM at Eagle Point Golf Club.
Q.¬† I was curious on a couple things, I didn't hear, but I assume that the date will stay the same throughout the run of the tournament through 2019.¬† And also maybe for Jamie, if you would talk a little about how you would like to see this relationship grow and expand in terms of how you market the bank using the tournament.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:¬† It is our projected date going forward as it has been over the years.¬† I suppose if something very strange happened, it might change that, but I don't see that happening.¬† We are in shape with the date.¬† I think it's the perfect date for the Quail Hollow Golf Course, ergonomics are good right then, and from a player standpoint, it's good.
What's the second part of the question?
JAMIE MOLDAFSKY:¬† I can take the second part, on how we want to continue to market.¬† We are optimistic we will keep the same dates, as well, because as you said, they work wonderfully.
We are really thrilled because there are a number of benefits to the tournament.¬† And so really, we are going to build on the success that we have always had.¬† That includes expanded advertising, which will be national advertising, obviously throughout the tournament on the Golf Channel and CBS Sports.
We are thrilled to be able to host even more customers and guests.¬† We are continuing our hospitality, which has been very successful in building relationships, as well as supporting the community.
We are also going to be expanding our team member engagement.¬† We know we have great team member engagement in Charlotte.¬† This is a great opportunity to continue to expand that and finally to continue to strengthen the platform for community philanthropy, and obviously succeeding together and First Tee Programs, to be able to extend those as much as we can nationally, is a real objective of ours.
So we think this is a great platform, obviously great viewership, and that we anticipate doing all the same, but just doing more of it.
Q.¬† Can you tell how this affects Charlotte's role in the PGA and how it might cement things, and especially with Quail Hollow and where you are in preparations for the PGA in 2017, maybe beyond and including course improvements?
JOHNNY HARRIS:¬† Certainly No. 1, any time you have an opportunity to partner with Wells Fargo, the PGA TOUR, and for that matter, CBS Sports to bring a tournament like the Wells Fargo to the marketplace, we are very fortunate.
For all of us at Quail, it's been a win/win for everyone.¬† And to have this extension allows us to continue to make changes to our facility that creates an experience for our patrons, it's is almost second to none.
And also one that let's us create a golf course even more so where it is challenging for the best players in the world and we think that they want to come and experience it and enjoy it.
Going forward, it's great to be able to bridge of gap of bringing the best players in the world to Charlotte.¬† When we did the PGA Championship in 2017, there was a little bit of concern about how our partner viewed professional golf, and it changed and they now understand the value of it for their brand and it's been a great relationship and partnership.
So we now have a situation where going forward, the people of Charlotte, our region and the states of North and South Carolina will continue to have the best players in the world come here on an annual basis.
Q.¬† Curious what was involved to bring it from Quail Hollow to Eagle Point?¬† Were there any specific specifications you looked at for a course‑‑ I know that it couldn't be‑‑ you would prefer that it wasn't in a market that was already hosting a course, but what was it about Eagle Point specifically that kind of grabbed your attention?
JOHNNY HARRIS:¬† Maybe I should begin, because I think that this started when we were discussing with the PGA of America 2017, and we initially had even evaluated having a TOUR event at the same location that year and it worked out, everybody felt like it would be better for the event to go to a different location.
So we looked at where to go in the North Carolina market.¬† We looked, and Kendall Alley and his team with Wells Fargo looked in Atlanta and certain places up north; the timing of the event made it pretty appropriate to stay close by.
Eagle Point continues to be in the ratings one of the state's best golf courses, one, two or three‑‑ I haven't seen the most recent one but I'm sure it's still there.¬† It is a great place that I think people will enjoy going to, and when we take a year off and take the TOUR down there, it will be great and it's great for their players.
And Bobby Long, you think about Bobby Long and the guys that are behind Eagle Point, they understand the game.¬† And so it was a great place to go and I think it's wonderful that his experience with the Wyndham Classic; that he knows what it's like to put on a golf tournament and they will do a great job.¬† We're just excited about 2017 in Wilmington.
Q.¬† How do you start reaching out to the community in Wilmington here?¬† Eagle Point is kind of on the edge of town, pretty exclusive, tough for a lot of regular folks around here to really know what they are going to be getting themselves into in a couple years.
BOBBY LONG:¬† First of all, let me just state, we are thrilled, and as you can imagine, being able to showcase all of Eastern North Carolina, in particular, Wilmington, is a wonderful opportunity for us and we couldn't be more thrilled.
We've been studying this whole issue for some time as we contemplated having the opportunity to host the 2017 championship, and the logistics around parking, the logistics around having teams to work the event from a local volunteer standpoint, etc., have all been addressed, and we'll be rolling those out.¬† We've got three years to do it, and we are already way down the road on doing that.¬† I think you will be quite impressed and we expect nothing short of A ++.¬†
Q.¬† While we are on sponsorships I wonder if maybe you could speak to whether you're comfortable about the dc event has good sponsorship going forward and if there's an option out there if Congressional doesn't work out going forward?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:¬† Well, we are well into the process to define the future there sponsorship‑wise and venue‑wise.¬† It would be premature for me to answer specifically at this moment, but we should be able to clarify all of that for you in the very near future, maybe as soon as in the next ten days.
Q.¬† What kind of impact can we expect here in Wilmington?¬† What can people as far as economic impact and also the number of people coming to the area?
BOBBY LONG:¬† That's hard to answer other than think of this:¬† You have this broadcast, to, what, 200‑plus countries, so we get a chance to showcase Wilmington to the whole world.¬† As you know, Wilmington is a remarkably wonderful place that has to a large extent not been discovered.¬† And so to have that kind of exposure is priceless; I don't even know that you can put a value on it other than to say that it's extreme.
We are so excited about doing that.¬† We know how to do this.¬† We know every single part of it.¬† We've been analyzing that since Johnny first called us, which we thank our lucky stars every day that he did, and so the number of people‑‑ I think we'll have people coming in from all over everywhere.¬† It will be remarkable.
Q.¬† A couple years ago there were concerns over the course here at Quail Hollow and the kinds of upgrades that needed to be done for the 2017 venue.¬† And I'm wondering if we can get a little more color on what specifically has been done.¬† At first we were hearing it could be a couple of years away from making sure that everything could get ready and just wondering why you were able to get it done prior to that and what's been done.
JOHNNY HARRIS:¬† First of all, thanks for your question.¬† We did escalate our time frame.¬† And I'll be glad to say why.
We tried to put it out of our mind but you may remember that we got dealt a bad hand last year in terms in the condition of our greens during the Wells Fargo Championship.¬† And a lot of people worked very hard to try to overcome what was at best a marginal greens surface during the tournament last year.
And because of that, we knew we were going to step up and go two years early to redo our greens and change from bentgrass to MiniVerde bermuda.¬† We have done that and we redid all our greens.
And in addition to that, we did some minor modifications to the tees on 18 and 15. ¬†We also redid the 8th hole under Tom Fazio's supervision‑‑ mall of this, all of the improvements.
And on 16 we relocated the 16th fairway and the 16th green as much as 40 yards left of where it was so that it is now ‑‑ the hole is now down on the water on the lake and creates an unbelievable viewing area that I look forward to you seeing, and I really looking forward to the television making it available for people to watch them play around the lake there as they come in on 14, 15, 16, 17.
Q.¬† And those are already done?
JOHNNY HARRIS:¬† Yes, everything has been completed, and we are ready to go.¬† And honestly, if in fact, tomorrow or Thursday is the beginning of spring, we are ready to start growing grass, and the greens are done and they are in great shape.¬† So it's really greening up for the tournament in May.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:¬† I believe that's the remainder of the questions.¬† We appreciate all of the participants on the call, as well as the media joining it.¬†¬† We appreciate it, and we'll have a transcript available probably in less than an hour.¬† So appreciate your calling in today and have a good rest of the day.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports