Improving Business in the Wilmington Region

Wells Fargo Championship Showcases Greater Wilmington to the World

The Wells Fargo Championship, held in early May at Eagle Point Golf Club, offered pro golfers a look at one of Wilmington’s premiere courses. But the event, which was broadcast in 32 languages to 225 countries around the world, was also a unique showcase for Greater Wilmington as a destination for businesses and people.

Some 20 million viewers watched the event on television. “The amount of national and international coverage is something you just can’t buy,” says Kym Hougham, executive director of the Wells Fargo Championship. Between The Golf Channel and CBS Sports, there was an estimated 38 hours of coverage across the four-day tournament. Golf Week, Golf World and the Associated Press covered the event, and reporters came from as far away as Japan and Canada. “When the #1 golfer in the world plays, that brings a stronger media group than normal,” Hougham says.

The annual Wells Fargo Championship is usually held at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, but Wilmington emerged as the 2017 host when the PGA Championship booked Quail Hollow for that event this August. In years past, the Wells Fargo Championship generated from $40 million to $60 million in economic impact, as players, families, visitors and media organizations fill hotel rooms, restaurants and retail establishments. But the long-term marketing impact could be even greater.

“One of our main goals was to elevate awareness of Wilmington with the national and international platform that we were able to provide,” says Jan Ivey, marketing director of the Wells Fargo Championship. Ivey, Hougham and their PGA counterparts were impressed by the reaction of Wilmington leaders and residents. “They supported us through ticket sales and their willingness to work with us on managing traffic issues and security needs,” Ivey says. “The business community was especially supportive.”

WBD was among the first organizations Hougham and Ivey heard from when tournament officials selected Eagle Point in late 2014. “We were pretty unfamiliar with Wilmington as a market,” recalls Hougham. “We built a good working relationship with WBD that lasted all the way through the end of the tournament.”