CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The profile of professional golf in Charlotte got a significant boost Wednesday, Jan. 12 with the announcement of the Chiquita Classic Nationwide Tour event at the club at Longview, a Jack Nicklaus signature course of the south side of the Queen City.
The tournament is scheduled for Sept. 24-30 at Longview, which opened in October 2003. The initial tournament agreement is for three years.
Six weeks ago, Chiquita Brands announced plans to move its global headquarters to Charlotte, and with the announcement of the Chiquita Classic, the company is demonstrating a desire to make a contribution to its new community that goes beyond a mere business presence.
“We are pleased to bring the Chiquita Classic to the greater Charlotte area,” Chiquita chairman and CEO Fernando Aquirre said. “We promised to help make a positive impact in the Charlotte area, and bringing this fantastic golf tournament here will do just that.
“The Chiquita Classic also provides us a great opportunity to feature our nutritious products, highlight our commitment to health and wellness, and to assist Greater Charlotte charities.”
The Chiquita Classic will feature a field of 156 players competing over 72 holes of stroke play at the 7,065-yard course for a purse of $550,000. The schedule includes a pro-am on Sept. 26..
All four rounds of the Chiquita Classic will air on Golf Channel in the U.S., with the tournament made available in 176 countries and territories around the world. The Chiquita Classic joins the PGA TOUR’s Wells Fargo Championship, played at Quail Hollow Club in May, as Charlotte’s fall option to watch and support a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event.
“The Nationwide Tour is thrilled to partner with Chiquita in Charlotte,” Nationwide Tour president Bill Calfee said. “We have had a very solid relationship with them since they joined our family of sponsors two years ago. Chiquita has made a strong commitment to the Nationwide Tour and to Greater Charlotte, and we look forward to building a first-class event.
“The Chiquita Classic will provide significant national and international exposure for not only the Chiquita brand, but the Charlotte community as well. The Classic will have a measurable impact on local charities given Chiquita’s corporate focus on giving back and building on the PGA TOUR’s already strong presence in Charlotte that the Wells Fargo Championship has established.”
Courses created by Nicklaus Design have hosted more than their share of professional and amateur championships over the years.
“It’s always an honor when one of our golf courses is selected to host a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event,” said Jack Nicklaus, the golf legend who designed the tournament course. “The Club at Longview was our first design work in the Charlotte area, and it turned out to be a beautiful setting for golf. The property was naturally rolling, with nice changes in elevation.
“There was a mix of existing open fields, accented by wooded draws or valleys that contained wetlands, streams and lakes. This all combined to add to the variety of the golf experience. Outside of the aesthetics, the golf course at Longview should be a good test of golf for these up-and-coming TOUR professionals. The golf fans in the Charlotte area should enjoy the level of competition when the Chiquita Classic comes to town in September.”
The Chiquita Classic will name a benefiting charity or charities in the near future. In addition, the tournament will implement the “Charity Ticket Program”, which will enable Charlotte-area charities to sell Chiquita Classic tickets and retain 100 percent of the sales for the benefit of their respective organizations. The 2010 and 2011 Chiquita Classics (played in the Cincinnati area) raised more than $400,000 for charitable organizations. Details will be announced at a later date on how greater Charlotte-area charities can participate in the Charity Ticket Program.