Presidents Cup: Q&A with Quail Hollow Club’s Johnny Harris

Team USA fans in the grandstands on the first tee during the foursomes match play of the 2022 Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports)

Johnny Harris: When we first decided to go back to the PGA Tour in 2004 with the Wachovia Championship we knew we had a unique support mechanism in Wachovia, because they had just merged, Wachovia and First Union and they wanted an opportunity to put their brand in front of a certain type of person and that along with the fact that we sat down with Arnold Palmer, which was never lost on me that Arnold in his own way had a better understanding of what the people wanted out of the game that he loved so much.

We talked to him about how do we do something really special here in Charlotte. There was all kinds of advice and suggestions that we received including taking care of the caddies, valet parking for the caddies, we had valet parking for the wives, and we did all kinds of different things including events for the wives. During the first three or four years we had two years where we had 29 of the top 30 in the world here for the golf tournament and we did a lot of unusual things to attract them.

I personally worked on bringing the Final Four here in 1994 and was involved in bringing the NFL to Charlotte and one of the things we learned was that you have to go ask for the business. We had a golf course which had been designed by George Cobb, who had designed the Par 3 at Augusta and we had Tom Fazio come in and change it and then all of a sudden the people who had heard bad things about our golf course, because it wasn’t a great championship golf course, all of a sudden there was some real enthusiasm amongst the players.

Q: What do players in today’s game in 2022 want compared to what players wanted when you first started this event?

Johnny Harris: I think Johno can answer it one way and I am going to answer it another way. The kids of today are different from the kids when we started the tournament. The leadership of the Tour as you uniquely look at all of the competition and the great players that exist in the world.

Johno Harris: I’m thinking about the difference when we first started the Wachovia Championship and what the players really wanted when they came here compared to today. You go from them having their bag, their caddie and their clubs to now they have their bag, caddie, clubs, coach, their mind coach to everything and the ultimate change and not to say that Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player and all of them weren’t athletes because they were but these guys take it to another extreme level and the amenities that they need day in day out. We have tried to stay ahead of that to give them an opportunity to go do what they do best.

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