There’s no doubt this is a tough time of year to be battling for the entertainment dollar in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The immensely popular Fleet Week featuring the Blue Angels is taking place as is college and professional football. Throwing in a PGA Tour event complicates the decision-making process, giving people even more options.

The Safeway Open at the Silverado Resort and Spa is the first event on the PGA Tour’s wrap-around season and as a result, doesn’t always have the star power of other Tour events.

The tournament organizers realize that and have adapted, creating an event rather than just a golf tournament. I had yet to venture to the event in the past, but made a point of attending this year on the opening Thursday.

My thoughts? Drop what you have planned this weekend and head up to Napa for the tournament either Saturday or Sunday.

Thomas Keller and PhilMickelson

I am a golf fanatic and have had the luxury of attending the Waste Management Open in Scottsdale which more like a party that also has a golf tournament going on.

While the Safeway Open is not there yet, the tournament has done in incredible job of making it truly an event of food, wine, entertainment and oh yeah, by the way, a PGA Tour event.

The tickets are very reasonably priced, and admission allows entrance to all the venues on the course at no additional charge. The Safeway Food and Wine Pavilion is 25,000 square feet of climate-controlled paradise, featuring numerous wine and world class foods from chefs Thomas Keller, Morimoto and Charlie Palmer.

With only one day at the tournament we were unable to get to every venue, but those that we did visit were a lot of fun.

For starters, the Beers-Fore-Birdies grandstand behind the 16th green is a place to be during the tournament. Every time someone makes a birdie, beers are available for a discounted price for 10 minutes.

The reachable par 5 makes for at least one, if not two birdie putts with every group. The level of excitement of the fans with every birdie putt is awesome and when a golfer reaches the green in two, the fans roar as a birdie is usually a mere formality.

Beers-Fore-Birdies

We were there for seven groups Thursday and there were birdies from six of the groups. However, in the group that didn’t get a birdie, one of players sank a long par putt, drawing an enthusiastic round of applause from the people in the grandstand. The crowd noise seemed to throw the timekeeper off and thinking a birdie was made, she reset the special clock – yes there are two big clocks that count down from 10 minutes with a birdie – to 10 minutes.

There are a variety of venues for people to visit at the tournament, not to mention getting up close and personal with some of the top golfers in the world. In comparing notes with others at the tournament, there was not a negative word.

Our final event of the day was the Sammy Hagar concert on the Mansion lawn. There is a concern Friday and Saturday night, with Young the Giant performing Friday and Billy Idol on Saturday. The concerts are free with admission into the tournament.

Concert crowd

It’s an amazing offer as the cost to see just the performers at other venues is more than the cost of a ticket to the Safeway Open.

You can’t really ask for more in an entertainment destination – world class golf, food, wine and entertainment, all at reasonable prices. Head out there either Saturday or Sunday and prepare to have an incredible time!

Visit www.safewayopen.com for more information.

By Dennis Miller

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