Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Wyndham Championship and McConnell Golf Have Been a Dream Pairing

(GREENSBORO, NC) — Monday's big announcement that Tiger Woods would definitely be playing in this week’s 2015 Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club added an exclamation point to what had already shaped up to be the most exciting field in the tournament’s 76-year history.

To say that the Wyndham Championship has flourished since moving back to Sedgefield Country Club — one of the courses on which the tournament was founded in 1938 — would be a major understatement. Title sponsorship from Wyndham Worldwide in 2007 and the move back to Sedgefield’s Donald Ross course in 2008 were major factors in the tournament’s exciting resurrection.

Boasting one of the most popular, classic golf courses in the PGA TOUR’s lineup doesn’t hurt, either.

When Raleigh-based McConnell Golf purchased Sedgefield CC from the membership in 2011, owner John McConnell poured massive funds into the property for significant upgrades to the club’s renowned Donald Ross design. Today, Sedgefield Country Club is a jewel in the McConnell Golf lineup, a fitting home for North Carolina’s oldest PGA TOUR event.

“The move back to Sedgefield in 2008 was one of the few real game changers in our history, but when John McConnell bought it three years later, every aspect of the club improved immediately,” said Wyndham Championship Tournament Director Mark Brazil. “Players noticed it year one.

“John (McConnell) quickly realized playing on bent grass greens in August in North Carolina didn’t work; and he changed the greens over to Champion Bermuda,” Brazil said. “That was a strong statement that he wanted everything to be first class. Outside of the major championships, Sedgefield is now a top-five course on the PGA TOUR.”

“Prior to (McConnell’s) ownership you couldn’t see how good this place was,” said Sedgefield CC Director of Golf Rocky Brooks. “McConnell took it to a level of excellence most didn’t know possible.”

* With the recent additions of Brook Valley CC (Greenville, NC) and The Country Club of Asheville (NC), its third Donald Ross layout, Raleigh-based McConnell Golf now owns ten 18-hole, private golf courses plus one nine-hole course across the Carolinas.

* The Wyndham Championship highlights another outstanding year of professional, collegiate, amateur or elite junior level events contested on highly regarded golf courses around the Carolinas owned by McConnell Golf. In total, 14 major 2015 tournaments will be contested at McConnell Golf venues. “We pride ourselves on providing a championship test for the finest golfers at every level,” said McConnell Golf Founder and CEO John McConnell, who incorporated his computer software marketing expertise to help spread the word and coin the McConnell Golf mantra: “Pure Golf for the True Golfer.”

* In 1983 the Cardinal Amateur golf tournament established the Thomas and Bettie O’Briant Memorial Scholarship Fund, which today funds a $2,000 scholarship annually renewed through its recipients’ four-year college career. Since its inception, a total of 33 students drawn from the Guilford County area have been awarded approximately $127,000 through the need-based scholarship, which is made possible from proceeds received by the Cardinal Amateur Golf Tournament and corporate and private donations. The Thomas and Bettie O’Briant Memorial Scholarship has grown from a one time, $1,000 award to a four-year, $8,000 award. The Cardinal Amateur, presented by McConnell Golf, is held at the Sedgefield Country Club Pete Dye Course. The Cardinal Am has long been one of the top amateur events of the summer calendar. Many past champions and participants have gone on to successful PGA TOUR careers. At the 2015 event in early August, rising University of Richmond sophomore Matthew Lowe drained a testy, 4-foot par putt on the final hole to secure the title. A native of Farmville, N.Y., Lowe shot two rounds of par and a two-under 68 to win by one stroke (70-70-68=208, -2) over Clemson’s Miller Capps. UNC-Charlotte golfer Victor Wiggins finished in third place at one-over 211, while four players, including Florida mid-amateur Joe Alfieri, tied for fourth place at two-over.

* McConnell Golf members receive the added bonus of having access to all 10 McConnell Golf courses, each of which ranks among the very finest in their respective states. Given that the Carolinas have been described as having “50 Top-10 golf courses,” earning the highest marks requires the careful attention to detail for which McConnell Golf has become known. As they have done time and time again, McConnell Golf courses dominated the rankings in 2015. In North Carolina’s prestigious Top 100, Old North State Club repeated as the fourth best golf course in the Tar Heel State, trailing only Pinehurst No. 2, Grandfather Mountain and CCNC’s Dogwood Course. Meanwhile, Sedgefield Country Club’s Ross Course made one of the year’s most significant jumps among the Tar Heel State’s best, up to No. 16 from No. 22 in 2014 — giving McConnell Golf the top two-ranked courses in the Triad. Close behind Sedgefield’s Ross Course, Raleigh CC remained at the No. 21 position in the state while Treyburn CC (No. 30) again earned a spot in North Carolina’s Top 30. “Given how difficult it can be to find the right club, golf course and club culture within a most desired region of a state, a lot of things have to go right and the planets have to align,” said McConnell Golf Founder and CEO John McConnell. “Our company has evolved into a fairly big operation now with more than 600 employees and a lot of revenue coming in, so it’s a big, challenging business to say the least.”

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