Director of Professional Golf isn’t a position that a normal golf club has space for on its organizational chart, but Quail Hollow isn’t a normal club.
From the 2022 Presidents Cup to the 2025 PGA Championship, the renowned club in Charlotte, North Carolina – home of the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship since 2003 – found itself in a unique situation when it was tasked with hosting four events that are run by three different organizations in a 2 ½ year span.
It’s rare for a golf course to host an annual PGA Tour event as well as major championships, and the club identified the challenge as an opportunity to continue to expand its footprint in the game and created the new position that you won’t find anywhere else.
Adam Sperling is the first to self-deprecate his own ability on the golf course and still can’t help but laugh when he thinks of his new position’s title.
“I think the biggest thing with the title was making sure that nobody can confuse me for a director of golf or a head professional,” said Sperling, who was named for the position on Jan. 31, 2023, following his successful stint as the PGA Tour’s executive director for the 2022 Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Club last fall.
The event saw record ticket, hospitality and sponsorship sales under Sperling’s leadership, and the 41-year-old will now be tasked with charting the future of pro golf at the club.
‘How do you get better than what’s best?’
John J. Harris founded Quail Hollow after a little encouragement from none other than his good friend Arnold Palmer, and the course was opened in 1961. Less than two years after the clubhouse opened in 1967, Quail Hollow hosted the PGA Tour’s Kemper Open, which remained in Charlotte until 1979. The club then hosted the World Seniors Invitational from 1980-1989 before the PGA Tour returned in 2003 with the Wachovia Championship, now known as the Wells Fargo Championship.
What makes this week’s annual Tour stop in Charlotte special is its status as one of 17 designated events on the 2022-23 PGA Tour schedule, which will offer a total purse of $20 million and feature PGA Tour stars such as defending champion Max Homa, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and more. While the tournament’s future as designated event is unknown, Quail Hollow is contracted to host the event through 2024, before it welcomes the PGA Championship, May 15-18, 2025.
Quail Hollow has a motto – Good to better, better to best – and events at the club have been riding a tailwind since the Tour’s return in 2003. The PGA Championship in 2017 benefitted from the Tour’s 15 years of growth in Charlotte, and the Wells Fargo expanded off the strides made from the PGA Championship. Last year’s Presidents Cup capitalized off both, and with Sperling at the helm, the club hopes the Wells Fargo can grow once more.
“If you keep changing the people involved, it gets hard to connect all those dots. It’s a lot on a club, it’s a lot on membership,” said Sperling. “I’ve joked since I got here that you’re never allowed to get to best because as soon as you get to best, you go back to better. How do you get better than what’s best? I think it’s just a commitment from the club to have somebody thinking about tournament golf 24/7.”
Prior to his work at Quail Hollow, Sperling spent nine years as executive director for the PGA Tour’s Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas after previously holding various positions such as director of operations for the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, where he oversaw both the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Pure Insurance Championship on the PGA Tour Champions, as well as a two-year stint as an operations manager for the Tour.
No two days are the same in his new gig, but that’s by design. The last few months have been an adjustment for Sperling, but his previous experiences have all helped him in some way or another at Quail Hollow.
“I had to liken it to any one thing, it’s probably what brought me to the industry, which is getting to work with a lot of different people in a lot of different roles,” Sperling explained. “In the new role, it’s kind of taking that mentality to everybody involved and really just asking the question, ‘How can I help you? What can I do to make your job easier? What can I do to make you know your goals more attainable?’”
In other words, Sperling is a utility club. No two shots are the same, and that goes for his day-to-day schedule, as well.
Sperling also describes himself as a driven person who will always say he could have worked harder or done better, no matter the job. Similar to a high school football coach, he also loves a good motivational quote.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. I want to go farther, faster,” said Sperling. “If we can just continue month over month, week over week, day over day … I want to be a catalyst for everybody to go beyond what they thought they could do with golf at Quail Hollow.”
Good to better, better to best.