The PGA Tour will be returning to Napa’s Silverado Resort and Spa, a 36-hole complex that has a storied history in professional golf.
The Frys.com Open will be relocating its 72-hole tournament from CordeValle in San Martin, Calif., to Silverado’s North Course starting in the fall of 2014. The event, offering a $5 million purse with $900,000 going to the winner, will be held Oct. 6-12, 2014.
The announcement was made by Silverado’s ownership group, which includes World Golf Hall of Fame member Johnny Miller. Title sponsor Fry’s Electronics is a privately owned retailer with 34 nationwide locations headquartered in San Jose.
“We are thrilled to host the season-opening PGA Tour tournament on our iconic property,” said Miller, a 25-time PGA Tour winner, who has served as the lead analyst for NBC Sports’ golf coverage since 1990. “Our North Course is amongst the most challenging and beautiful courses in the state, and over the last two years the Troon team and I have ensured the playing experience is superior in every way.”
The Frys.com Open will be the opening event of the 2014-15 PGA Tour season and will feature a full-field, with 132 players. Golf Channel will televise each of the four rounds.
The last time a PGA Tour event was played at Silverado was 1980. Silverado hosted the Kaiser International Open from 1968 to 1976 and the Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic from 1977 to 1980.
The Silverado winner’s circle includes Miller, who won two majors — the U.S. Open in 1973 and British Open in 1976. Other champions include Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Ben Crenshaw.
“They needed a tournament site and that’s when we started talking to them,” said Tim Geesey, Silverado’s director of golf operations. “I’m thrilled that we could bring professional golf back to Silverado and really back in the Napa Valley.
“Our goal is to make it a true showcase for Napa Valley. We’re excited that we were able to get this done and for the next 16 months we’ll be preparing Silverado to be a great venue.”
Silverado was the site of the Transamerica, a Champions Tour event for players age 50 and older, from 1989 to 2001. There was also the Napa Valley Championship presented by Beringer Vineyards in 2002, a Champions Tour event.
Past Champions Tour winners here include Lee Trevino, Tom Kite and Dave Stockton.
Silverado’s ownership group was scheduled to announce to its membership Wednesday night the relocation of the Frys.com Open. Silverado will also host the event in 2015 with an option for a third year in 2016.
“Johnny Miller is the key reason why all of this is happening,” said Geesey. “To the ownership’s credit, they wanted to make sure that it was the right event at the right time. We really feel that with the strength of the Fry’s organization and their commitment to a top quality golf event, and the quality of the tournament organization led by Duke Butler, we couldn’t find a better partner.”
Butler is the tournament president and Jeff Sanchez is the tournament director.
“I think the important thing to remember is that the Frys.com Open still has an incredible event to run this October at a spectacular golf course,” said Geesey.
Tournament chairperson Kathy Kolder, in accepting the invitation from Silverado, said, “It’s an opportunity to enhance the reputation of our tournament, generate new sponsors, expand the volunteer base and make significant contributions to deserving charities.”
Silverado is a Troon Golf-managed facility.
Tournament proceeds have generated $1 million to worthy charities each of the last two years and $5 million in its brief history.
The Silverado North Course, a championship layout that Miller redesigned, made Golfweek’s Top 100 Resort Courses for 2012. Miller lengthened the course, which features water crossings, elevation changes, and routing through oak, pine, and redwood trees. Enhancing the makeover was a complete bunker renovation. The removal of kikuyu grass has also returned the course to its original rye-Kentucky bluegrass condition, making for better all-around playability while adding to the aesthetic beauty of the course. There are 24 new tees on the course, a par-72 layout that plays 7,226 yards from the tournament tees.
Instead of mostly long, flat and straight, the North Course now has movement and angles to its par-4 holes, creating even more of a test in shaping shots.
Miller played one of his first tournaments on the PGA Tour at Silverado in 1969 and won here in 1974 and 1975.
Miller, who was born and raised in San Francisco, was an All-American at Brigham Young. He was the PGA Tour Player of the Year in 1974 when he captured eight titles. He won four more times in 1975.
Silverado has been in contact with different golf tours, which have each expressed interest in the resort for tournament golf.
“There is no shortage of people wanting to bring a golf event to Silverado and to Napa Valley,” said Geesey. “It was amazing how many people wanted to come here.”
The North Course offers a great combination: challenging holes and excellent viewing for spectators.
“The quality and challenge of the golf course is there,” said Geesey. “We think it’s a great test of golf. The green complexes here are what is going to challenge these players. We’ll set this golf course up to be a good, fair test.
“From a spectator standpoint, it’s really going to be an enjoyable place to watch golf. It’s a very easy golf course to walk and to see great golf being played.”