Sedgefield Country Club (SCC), the site of the Wyndham Championship, is not like most other golf courses on the PGA Tour rotation. It is situated in a very small residential community that was established as far back as 1926. Roads in this area are very narrow and there is a unique juxtaposition of average, small houses and multi-million dollar mansions almost side-by-side in this area. When the Tour rolls into SCC every August, the Piedmont Triad comes out in force to watch, but what about the members and the residents of this area? How does this event impact their lives?
Susan has been a member of SCC since 1992 and has lived in the immediate vicinity of the golf course for the past nine years. As a club member she remembers the discussion leading up to the agreement with the Tour and with Wyndham. She noted that many of the older members who remembered the Greater Greensboro Open at SCC floated a great many negatives about the tournament: people urinating in backyards, cars tearing up lawns, and all manner of people running around the club 24 hours a day. Sheer chaos. The members who had no recollection of the GGO weren't sure what to expect, but the Tour came back to Sedgefield in 2008. Two years later, where are the members and residents?
Most absolutely love having the Wyndham (and the golf world) in their backyard for a week. Traffic is exceptionally well-controlled by Greensboro Police Department and the Guilford County Sheriff's Department. The law enforcement presence is exceptionally high-profile at the event and deputies are stationed all around the course in the event the Show Pros call for assistance. There is no access into the immediate course area except for residents (with passes) and CBS, vendors, and operations can get up to where they need to deliver their supplies, but that is it!
Life does change for the members of the Club. They can have access to certain areas of their clubhouse, providing they purchase a "VIP" badge for access this week. The tennis courts are closed to allow bus parking and the pool/workout rooms area closed off as the Media Center sets up immediately adjacent to the area. In addition, the golf course has to close down at least a week prior to the start of play and this year, due to intense heat and drought conditions, it course was closed many afternoons to allow for irrigation and cooling of the greens. Shuttle traffic through the area (patrons have to park about 4-5 miles away from the actual course) and an uptick in regular grounds crew maintenance movement are a small price to pay for what amounts to "a week of vacation."
Most members and residents love the fact that for a week the whole area is completely transformed into a sea of color, bleachers, skyboxes, new cars, tour trailers, concession stands, and even inflatable bouncers for the kids. Blue and white Wyndham flags flutter on the breeze and golf carts dash all over the area bearing official-looking people on radios racing to fix some sort of issue. Susan noted that many residents host parties in their houses and sponsors vie for having gatherings in large houses close to the course. The attitude can be downright festive!
It also stands to reason that the SCC members and residents like to work as volunteers each year in the tournament. After a few years of work, they normally discover their "niche" and go back to that one thing they enjoy year after year - and they don't have to go to volunteer parking and take the shuttle in each day!
After the PGA Tour leaves Greensboro, the members meet to discuss the finances. The Wyndham guarantees a certain profit each year and hopefully, if sales are good, the club can exceed that amount. There seems to be a good partnership that has developed between the Tour, the Wyndham, and SCC. There is money funneled into SCC for upkeep, extras, and even part of the Kris Spence renovation a few years ago.
Even with the additional money coming in, there are whispers that the club is indeed struggling in this economy. McConnell Golf has met with the members to discuss a possible buy-out which would add to their premier properties in North Carolina. There are most likely many more things happening behind closed door that will be found in the paper in months and years to come. But for now, there are some very excited residents in Sedgefield that love it when the big show comes to town!
This article was written by Bryan Brendley, a friend and long-time reader of The Sand Trap.