115. Quail Hollow Club
George Cobb (1961) / Tom Fazio (2016)
Few golf course projects had more national attention in recent years than Quail Hollow, mainly because its front nine was redesigned just a year before it hosted the 2017 PGA Championship, won by Justin Thomas. The par-4 first and par-3 second holes were completely torn up, replaced by a new long dogleg-right par-4 opening hole. Several acres of pines to the left of the fifth tee were removed to make room for a new par-3 fourth. (With its knobby green fronted by three traps, it proved to be the most frustrating hole for pros in the 2017 PGA.) More pines were removed to the left of the par-4 11th, replaced by bunkers, and even more trees chopped down on a hill left of the par-4 18th to make room for money-making hospitality boxes. There’s no question that this latest remodeling, rushed though it was, improved the course. Look for Fazio to change the awkward par-4 second before Quail Hollow’s next big event, the 2021 Presidents Cup.
100 Greatest/Second 100 Greatest History: Ranked on America’s 200 Toughest: 1966 through 1968. Ranked on Second 100 Greatest: Current. Highest ranking: No. 115, current. Previous ranking: Not ranked
Quail Hollow has morphed into a championship-caliber course and less of a country club course. Over time, fans of this great golf course have observed the gradual changes instituted by Tom Fazio. It’s a difficult test—as seen in the scores at the PGA Championship and the yearly Wells Fargo Championship. But it's also a fun test of golf with lots of scoring opportunities rewarding good shots.
The best holes are the short par 4s, one on each side. The first two holes are sharp and rather awkward. But there is good design variety with holes that challenge you to make strategic choices off the tee and into the greens. Quail Hollow is the definition of a championship golf course that requires strong ball striking to score well.
Very quickly you discover that your priority of the day is keeping the ball in the fairway. The course features thick Bermuda rough that can be extremely penal. And with the heavy doglegs, which date back to the George Cobb design, you can easily find yourself behind a tree on a drive offline.
Driving in through the entrance into the stately clubhouse defines Southern Charm tastefully done. Having come here many times over the years, I’ve noticed a difference in the operations of the club: The club’s priority is in maintaining its status as a tournament course. But golfers benefit from these intentions. The giant corridors and large, undulating putting surfaces serve as a true, fun test.
Despite the changes off and on over the years, there’s still a continuous flow and nice progression through the holes in the round. Recent bunkering work has brought the edges of the courses traps closer the putting surfaces, with a look that is almost Australian like. I, for you, enjoyed that slick-line bunker styling.