Ever since I made my first visit to the Waste Management Open in Scottsdale, I have wondered why more PGA TOUR stops didn’t grasp the philosophy of basically having a golf tournament at an event.
I mean when you can draw close to 600,000 people for the four-day tournament why wouldn’t other stops try to replicate the experience?
Of course, the purest would demand that it has to be a golf tournament, first and foremost and that loud gatherings of revelers are not what they are seeking. Then again, the Waste Management has proved time and time again, that a socially enthused event can co-exist with a professional golf tournament.
This year the crew running the Safeway Open (formerly known as the Frys.com) at Silverado that takes place October 12-16, is embracing everything social to coincide with the tournament.
“Let’s have an event,” said Executive Director Jeff Sanders. “Let’s make it a festival for everyone.”
And they have.
Sanders is an executive with Lagardere Sports, a leading sports and entertainment agency with a global presence in a number of sports. It is working for the first time on the tournament. The firm represents more than 50 players on the PGA TOUR, including Phil Mickelson. And how about that, Mickelson committed to playing in the tournament back in June.
Apparently, they also know how to party. The Safeway Open is being built around six pillars and in this order – Beer, Wine, Spirits, Food, Music and oh yeah, Golf.
Here are the highlights of what tournament goers can expect:
**The Safeway Food and Wine Pavilion is being built right in the middle of the golf property. Check this out – 20,000 square feet of fun featuring three restaurants, a sports bar, wine, spirits and craft beer stations. The food? Do the names Thomas Keller, Masaharu Morimoto and Charlie Palmer right a bell? They will be running the food show. The beverages will be world class as well. The kicker – it is free (with your tournament admission) to get into the Pavilion. The promise is to keep the prices good as well.
**Beers for Birdies will be located at the 16th green. The Par 5 hole will be home for the fan favorite that features beer discounts for every birdie or eagle. The hole plays as one of the easiest on the course, so expect the party to be raging.
**The Spirits Lounge is a greenside lounge on the 17th hole, you can get specialty cocktails from with up to 10 popular spirit brands.
**The Brew Loft will be by the green on the par 3, 11th hole, the signature hole on the course. Choose from dozens of beers on tap.
**Thursday, Friday and Saturday after golf there will be a free concert on the lawn area in front of the Silverado Mansion. Thursday night features X Ambassadors to kick things off. Friday night the party keeps going with Charles Kelley, the front man for Lady Antebellum. Saturday night, the final show of the tournament will see the Bay Area’s Third Eye Blind rocking the stage.
**The admission prices are incredibly low for such an event. The rates are $40 a day in advance and $50 at the gate. For a five-day pass, the charge is $100 advance and $125 at the gate. Visit www.safeway.com to get a special promo code and you can chop the prices to $30 for a day and $75 for the five-day!
**Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the tournament, at least to those familiar with TOUR stops, is that volunteers, the backbone of any event, can work the tournament for free! Every other tournament I have seen charges the volunteers, basically covering the cost of their uniforms (typically $75-100 ). The Safeway Open is asking for nothing! Each volunteer gets two Nike polo shirts, one Nike Jacket, one Nike hat, one volunteer credential, two five-day guest passes, one volunteer party invite and free meals while working. That’s at least $500 worth of gear for free.
Basically what the Safeway and Lagardere Sports is taken all the best the Napa Valley has to offer and thrown in a PGA TOUR event with some of the world’s best players taking part.
This is where I have felt golf has needed to go because competition for the sports/entertainment dollar is fierce, especially in Northern California. People have options on where to spend their entertainment money and golf needed to create an experience as opposed to just having a golf tournament.
The seasoned golf fan would make it work to see some of the top players, but the fringe sports fans, or even non-sports fans, may want to come because of the events and options for the Safeway Open.
Some big congratulations for the tournament connections for putting out something for everyone.
Perhaps no one sums it up better than tournament host and part owner of Silverado Johnny Miller.
“This is going to be a lot of fun,” said Miller, who was on hand for Media Day. “We are going in the right direction with a little bit of a turbo charger.”
For more information on the tournament and all that comes with it, go to www.safewayopen.com
By Dennis Miller