Bay Area golf fans will have two excellent choices to watch professional golf next week.
The PGA Tour makes its annual stop in the Napa Valley with the Safeway Open at the Silverado Resort and Spa. It’s moved a week earlier this year and is the same week the PGA Champions arrive in Carmel for the Pure Insurance Championships.
The three-day Champions Tour stop features teams with touring pros and 78 outstanding First Tee players from across the county. There also are two amateur teams in the foursomes for the first two days of the tournament that takes place at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Poppy Hills.
The field includes nine members of the World Golf Hall of Fame, including tour rookie Retief Goosen. In addition, veteran Australian golfer Rod Pampling turns 50 on Monday and is committed to teeing it up. Pampling played in the Greenbriar Classic last week in West Virginia and missed the cut.
Pleasanton’s own Todd Fischer, who just turned 50, qualified for the Ally Challenge last week in Flint, Mi. He finished in a tie for 52nd in his debut. He will try to qualify for the Pure Insurance at the Bayonet course on the former Fort Ord on Tuesday.
Two Champions tour regulars, bomber John Daly and the popular Freddie Couples, both have committed to playing in Napa.
As expected, the Safeway Open has been advertised on Golf Channel for weeks, touting its three free concerts, free hospitality venues and a $35 daily admission price—a great value.
The Pure Insurance team, the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, acknowledged that the traditional Bay Area audience is a bit of a stretch with the touring pros in Napa so their outreach has been tightly focused on growing the local attendees. Both tournaments were concerned about their volunteer base, but have been pleasantly surprised.
“We reached out to volunteers after the U.S. Open and invited them to come back for the Pure Insurance,” said Lesley Varney, marketing director for the foundation. “We need 550 volunteers because of our two courses and we have filled all of them except we need a few more shuttle drivers. It’s hard to find drivers who know their way around Carmel and the Del Monte Forest.”
There is no admission charge to the Pure Insurance. Patrons are encouraged to register ahead of time, but can register at the gate with their name and an email address.
With the local focus, the foundation and key sponsors have targeted specific audiences. Military personnel and veterans can enjoy the USAA Military Appreciation Pavilion near the 17th green at Pebble Beach. It will offer free snacks and refreshments with great views of the golf as well as Stillwater Cove south of the course.
First responders can enjoy a free lunch at the First Responders Deck, presented by Caliburn International and SERVOPRO, near the 17th tee.
All ticket holders enjoy access to the Bubble Bar, an open-air deck offering incredible views of golf and the stunning Pebble Beach coastline. Champagne, wine, beer, and specialty snacks are available for purchase from Friday through Sunday
For people interested in a first-class experience, they can purchase a three-day hospitality pass ($150 daily) for a pavilion on the 18th green. It includes an open bar and lunch daily. This year, for three-day purchasers, they will receive seats at the formerly private Jake Owen Beach Party on Friday evening. The dinner and concert, only open to tournament participants and their guests, takes place around the 18th green at Pebble.
Incidentally, Owen kicks off the concerts at the Safeway Open on Thursday evening. He’s played in both the First Tee and AT&T National Pro-Am, including this year when he partnered with his friend, Jordan Spieth.
To connect with families, Pure Insurance has added a family fun zone near the 18th hole. It includes lawn games, face painting and crafts and is free for the family. It opens at 10 a.m. daily.
The annual Chevron shootout, pairing six pros with First Tee players, will be held Thursday at 2:30 p.m. at Pebble Beach. The Scotch alternate shot format will be contested on holes 1,2,3, and 17.
In partnership with the Carmel Chamber of Commerce, a mixer has been added Thursday evening with hors d’oeuvres. It’s $20 for non-chamber members and features a clinic by pro Olin Browne.
The strong Champions tour field includes Schwab Cup leaders Scott McCarron, Jerry Kelly and David Toms, as well as perennial champion Bernhard Langer and defending champion Ken Tanigawa. Darren Clarke, the 2016 European Ryder Cup captain, is playing on a sponsor’s exemption as is Gary Nicklaus. Two-time champion Kirk Triplett will also tee it up.
General admission to the event is free, courtesy of MasterCard. Spectators don’t need tickets to attend practice rounds Tuesday through Thursday (September 24-26), but fans must register online either in advance or onsite at http://www.pureinsurancechampionship.com/tickets/ to attend tournament play, Friday through Sunday. Children 15 and under do not need a ticket to enter.
Organizers of both professional tournaments hope this is the last year they are head-to-head. The tentative schedule for 2020 shows the Pure Insurance event a week before the Safeway Open in September.
By Tim Hunt