After the thrilling conclusion in New Orleans on Monday, the PGA Tour heads up the eastern seaboard to Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, N.C., for the Wells Fargo Championship.
Now, you may be thinking, “Wait, don’t they usually play that tournament at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte?” Yes, yes they do. But this year Quail Hollow has the distinction of hosting the PGA Championship later in the year, so Eagle Point was lucky enough to snag the alternate venue.
Inspired by the natural setting, North Carolina native Tom Fazio designed the course in the late 1990s; it opened in 2000. And since 2009, it has bounced around the bottom half of Golf Digest’s ranking of Top 100 Courses in the U.S.
Eagle Point presents a 7,259-yard (supposedly Fazio added a new set of tees making the course closer to 7,500 yards) journey through the live oaks, sabal palms and coastal waters of Wilmington. Stunning views overlook a saltwater bay and the Intercoastal Waterway toward Figure Eight Island. Fazio and his team built up a mostly flat swath of pasture land with gentle contours and mature pines to make it look like they’ve been there forever. Such is Fazio’s gift; turning nothing into something. So long as you have deep pockets, the man does wonders.
The course is known for its exceptional conditioning; perfect fairways that are like hitting off carpet and true-rolling, quick greens. Even tree branches are meticulously trimmed to shape the playing corridors and water features were created to add aesthetics and challenge to the course. While the conditioning will be mentioned often by nit-picky pros, the course itself could be described as nice but unremarkable.
Holes to Watch
Hole 7 - 353-yard Par 4: This short par 4 with 10 bunkers and a pond is certainly striking. But the pros should be able to avoid all the hazards and give the green light to going for the green off the tee. With the course expected to play firm and fast, expect a couple eagle putts. On the flip side, deep bunkers guard the right side of the putting surface, which slopes from back to front.
Hole 10 - 185-yard Par 3: This beautiful one-shotter plays directly into the teeth of the Intracoastal Waterway, and provides little protection from a stiff breeze. Perfect club selection is required to avoid two Mackenzie-style bunkers to a shallow green. Expect this to be a favorite camera spot for fans and TV crews.
Hole 17 - 450-yard Par 4: Do you like seeing how an architect can make something from nothing? This hole is a prime example of Fazio at his best. Playing back into the prevailing ocean breezes, this slightly uphill hole will test even the longest hitters. 11 bunkers are found on the hole with a smattering found left of the fairway and another grouping being found longer down the right side. If you travel far enough left players will find a Fazio-made creek. An aggressive line of the tee is rewarded as hole turn gently right-to-left and players that bail out safe to the right will leave an even longer approach. The second shot plays uphill to a large green, which is split into two tiers by a ridge running through the middle. Players beware going long as a collection area leaves a tricky up-and-down.