NAPA, Calif. -- The wrap-around 2016-17 PGA Tour schedule kicks off with a new vibe in a familiar place.
Silverado Resort and Spa and the face of the tournament -- Johnny Miller, a part owner of the resort -- will host a fall event for the third time, but there's a renewed sense of energy and excitement surrounding the new Safeway Open, which will be held Oct. 12-16 on Silverardo's North Course. Safeway, a chain of grocery stores, has signed on as sponsor for five years, replacing the Frys.com Open.
Jeff Sanders, the executive director of the event, said the Safeway Open will be built on six pillars -- beer, wine, spirits, food, music and golf -- to "festivalize" the tournament, making it as fun as possible for fans. "There is no better place on earth than Napa in October," he said.
Fans who buy $30 daily tickets will have access to the 20,000-square-foot Safeway Food and Wine Pavilion built on the course. It is home to a sports bar, three restaurants and tastings from local wineries. The 11th hole will house a "Brew Loft" and the 17th hole a "Spirits Lounge." The "beer for birdies" campaign -- where drinks get discounted with every birdie made by the pros -- has moved to the 16th green, a par 5 that should relinquish lower scores.
Once the final putt drops, music will start on the front lawn of the mansion with concerts by X Ambassador (Thursday), Charles Kelley (Friday) and Third Eye Blind (Saturday).
Phil Mickelson and Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III have already committed to playing to beef up the field in what is essentially the season-opening event for 2017. Californian Aaron Wise, who led Oregon to the NCAA team title while winning the individual title, will play on a sponsor's exemption.
Silverado -- home to two courses, 13 lighted tennis courts and two signature restaurants -- is experiencing a rebirth under the stewardship of Miller, who lives in the area and grew up in San Francisco before going on to win 25 times on Tour, including two majors. Investment has been made to renovate the North course, the resort's 370 rooms and the 15,500-square-foot conference center. The Spa, a 16,000-square-foot haven of relaxation across the street, has always been popular. Tree and bunker removal and new sand have enhanced the look and feel of the North course.
"We have changed everything here, I don't know if you know that," Miller said. "You name a spot. We've changed it. This place is not the Silverado you guys think (about from the past)."