DAVIDSON – River Run Country Club won’t play second banana to anyone in the golf world Sept. 2-8.
The club hosts the Chiquita Classic, part of the four-tournament Tour Finals for the Web.com Tour – the nation’s second-highest level of professional golf – supported by an international television audience.
It’s the biggest golf event River Run has hosted in its history, spokesman Greg Murphy said.
The tournament’s four rounds will be broadcast Sept. 5-8 to roughly 80 countries on the Golf Channel. The PGA Tour has an off-week during the Chiquita Classic, so all eyes will be on River Run.
The field – made up of PGA Tour players ranked 126-200 in money and the top 75 Web.com Tour money winners – will chase a million-dollar purse and a $180,000 winner’s share.
“(Hosting the tournament) allows our membership to sort of rally around a point of pride,” Murphy said. “(TV coverage) gives us extra reputational value. It helps us in terms of driving and retaining membership, as well.
“You don’t just stumble into that kind of publicity.”
Rain or shine
The Chiquita Classic debuted in 2010 in Cincinnati before moving to Charlotte, and then Davidson. River Run has a three-year agreement with the Web.com Tour to host the event.
Torrential rains throughout the summer, some of which lightly damaged the course and caused closings, forced the club to make slight repairs.
River Run Course Superintendent Ron Ritchie worked with club and tour staff to keep the course in top working order as hard rains fell in June and July.
“It’s been a little unfortunate for River Run,” said Jim Duncan, the vice president of rules, competition and administration for the PGA Tour. “I was really impressed with their redesign. That one shot (of bad weather) dampened it, and it made them spend a lot of time putting work in.
“You don’t ever know what Mother Nature’s going to do, but if there’s anybody who can handle what they’ve gone through, it’s Ron Ritchie. I don’t see a lot of concern (moving forward).”
Non weather-related adjustments to the course for the tournament include: new longer, championship tee boxes on the fifth, seventh, eighth, ninth and 13th holes, which stretch the course length to roughly 7,320 yards; minor adjustments to fairway width, and slightly higher grass in the rough.
‘Nothing compares to it’
Murphy hopes River Run will be able to host the Chiquita Classic for years beyond its initial agreement.
In order to do so, he said, the tournament needs support from the business community in Davidson and the entire lake area. Fans and charities also play a major role.
People can buy tickets for $15 per round, with all proceeds going to a local charity of their choice. Participating charities include United Way of Central Carolinas, Greater Lake Norman Young Life, Angels and Sparrows Soup Kitchen, and Friends of the Animals.
River Run has hosted U.S. Open qualifiers and events for the third-tier eGolf Professional Tour.
“Nothing really compares to hosting the Chiquita Classic,” Murphy said. “The fact it’s a part of the Web.com Tour’s new playoffs makes it very unique. The cards fell squarely in our lap. This is a game-changer. We’re excited for it.”
• Event title: Chiquita Classic
• Location: River Run Country Club, Sept. 2-8
• Course architects: Robert Walker and Raymond Floyd
• Par: 72
• Defending champion: Russell Henley