Monday, May 16, 2016

Reflections on the Wells Fargo Championship in Charotte

Lush, green, magestic fairways framed with towering pines and oaks.

Greens as manicured, slick, curvacious and challenging as those at August National.

A gentle, refreshing breeze with sun-drenched cool (and then warming) days.

Forget about golf. Just be still, meditate and take it all in.

All the ambience, the quietness, the long, bending curves of the fairways.

Quail Hollow is like no place I've ever been. Moving, powerful, peaceful, QUIET (almost church quiet around the greens when the golfers are trying to finish the deal.) And then a thundering roar when someone makes a spectacular shot off in the distance!

Spectators--some sitting, others standing, still others faithfully tagging along with their favorites--by the thousands.

The Goodyear blimp hanging lazily in a blue sky with a few wispy clouds.

Ice cold bottled water, frosty Coca-Cola, chocolate ice cream bars, frozen lemonade. (Loved the Bojangles chicken nuggets and fries).

2,300 ambassadors (volunteers).

Tiny white balls launched like missiles from a tee. Putters gently brushing the greens. Wedges lifting balls from the bunkers, like magic. Gasps of wonderment from the onlookers.

The best, most focused golfers on the planet.

All of them seeking the first place prize—$1.3 million.

This is the iconic place--with all its vast greenness and lushness--that so many come to every year. One in particular who showed up for the 2016 Wells Fargo Championship was an unassuming Asian looking guy by the name of James Hahn (a former shoe salesman, no less) whom hardly anyone knew. Winner of the sudden death playoff hole, beating the likes of Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Bobby Castro, Webb Simpson and Justin Rose.

James Hahn, former shoe salesman, bagging the $1.3 million! James Hahn, choking back tears of happiness when he won and then tried to answer questions in an interview.

It was exhilarating working another Wells Fargo Championship at the beautiful Quail Hollow Club—the ninth one I’ve been a part of.

Well, actually, my assignment this year (as with last) was at the Will Call trailor at Carowinds—about 10 miles from Quail Hollow. No lush greens or fairways or waterfalls there. Only concrete and a fully equipped (with computers and furniture and micro fridge)POD.

Good, dedicated people on the Will Call team. We meshed well. Worked hard. Benefited from excellent leadership from our committee chair, and at the end of the day felt we’d done our part to make the 14th Wells Fargo Championship a success. Way to go, Will Call team!

It wasn’t all work. For I ventured out on the course a few days and took in all the beauty, fun and excitement at Quail Hollow. Saw Mickelson make a bogey. Saw Rory score a birdie. Saw a grinning Rickie tip his flat-brimmed hat to the gallery.

Next year the Wells Fargo Championship will be played at a golf course in Wilmington, N.C. It won't be as gorgeous as Quail Hollow, I'm sure, but so be it.

Onward to Wilmington, and then, in 2018 (God willing) back to Quail Hollow in Charlotte!