Napa Valley Register article
April 3, 2016 • By Marty James
The Safeway Open, a $6 million event at Silverado Resort and Spa in October that kicks off the PGA Tour’s 2016-17 season, will be more than just a week of golf on the very challenging North Course.
Befitting the tournament’s Napa Valley location, organizers of the event that runs Oct. 10-16 will make food, wine and music a bigger part of the nationally televised event.
“We believe that when we stage golf tournaments, it’s got to be more than a golf tournament,” said Jeff Sanders, executive vice president for golf events for Lagardere Sports and Entertainment, which is managing the tournament.
A 27,000-square-foot Safeway Food and Wine Pavilion will be built behind the No. 1 green. Organizers are expecting to soon announce the names of local restaurants that will be at the pavilion, which will also feature 25 local wineries. Spectators can purchase food and wine in the pavilion, which will be air conditioned and feature TVs and seating.
“It’s going to be a wonderful place to take a break from watching golf, to go in and get a taste of Napa as it relates to all the wonderful food and wine,” said Sanders, a former PGA Tour player, who will be the executive director of the tournament.
Food carts and other concessions will be located around the course.
Many members of Napa Valley Vintners have already signed up to participate in events leading up to and at the tournament, according to Patsy McGaughy, communications director for Napa Valley Vintners.
“We are excited the Safeway Open is coming to Napa Valley this fall,” said McGaughy. “Having a world-class golf tournament in Napa Valley further establishes our region as a leading destination for wine, cuisine and exceptional events.”
Latitude 38, the company that produces BottleRock, is working with the Safeway Open on securing bands that will play after the tournament’s first, second and third rounds. This will be in the area near the Silverado mansion.
This will be the third consecutive year of the PGA Tour at Silverado, which has a history of hosting professional tournament golf, dating back to the late 1960s. The PGA Tour announced last year that Safeway is the new title sponsor of the Safeway Open, formerly known as the Frys.com Open. The new five-year agreement runs through 2020 with the event, which is part of the FedExCup schedule, remaining at Silverado for the duration.
The Wednesday, Oct. 12 Pro-Am is already sold out, but spots are still available for the Monday, Oct. 10 Pro-Am.
Silverado has a long history of hosting professional tournament golf. The Kaiser International Open Invitational, a PGA Tour event, was played from 1968-1976. The Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic, also a PGA Tour event, was held from 1977-1980. The Transamerica, a Champions Tour event, was played from 1989-2002.
“We are delighted to have Safeway involved with the PGA Tour starting in 2016,” PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said in a news release. Organizers hope the tournament can raise at least $2 million for charities.
The winner’s circle here includes Johnny Miller, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Ben Crenshaw, Lee Trevino, Tom Kite, Dave Stockton and Billy Casper.
Johnny Miller, who is one of Silverado’s owners and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, captured Kaiser titles in 1974 and ’75.
“To get the Safeway Open, it seems like it was meant to be,” said Miller. “The players just love coming to Napa Valley and to Silverado. I think we’re going to have pretty good fields in the future.”
The winner of the Safeway Open, which will be televised by Golf Channel, gets an invitation to play in the Masters, the first major of the year, in April of 2017.
“We’re working hard to get some of the best golfers. I think we have a good shot at it,” said Bob Miller, the chairman and CEO of Albertsons Companies, LLC.
Safeway had an LPGA Tour event in Oregon and Arizona for a number of years. This is the first time that Safeway has been the title sponsor of a PGA Tour event.
“We want to have a big kick-off,” said Bob Miller. “With the size of our company, I wouldn’t be surprised if this tournament goes for many, many years, like a lot of them do. We’ve got to get the world’s best golfers. If we do that, we’ll have everything else set up to have a great event.”
Clay Gregory, president & CEO of Visit Napa Valley said, “It is great to see the PGA Tour returning to the Napa Valley. The Tour attracts fans that share very similar demographics to the majority of visitors to the Valley. The television coverage provides beautiful images and can’t help but inspire folks to visit.
The Safeway Open already has 700 volunteers signed up, but 500 more are needed. The tournament is providing the volunteers with Nike gear at no cost.
For more information about volunteering, contact Ryan Fowler of Lagardere Sports at 503-924-6222.