NAPA, Calif. -- The opening slot on the PGA Tour's 2014-15 schedule is going back to an old friend: Silverado Resort in Napa, which hasn't hosted a PGA Tour event since 1980.
On the opposite side of the Golden Gate Bridge from Cordevalle, which hosted the Frys.com Open from 2010-14, both Bay-area golf resorts are among the area's top stay-and-plays, though they're much, much different from one another.
Lavish CordeValle, currently gearing up to host the 2016 U.S. Women's Open, is a Rosewood-brand resort with just 45 rooms, but they are huge suites and spread out on a hillside overlooking the golf course. The price tag is about as high as it gets in NoCal golf (besides Pebble Beach). The secluded property particularly caters to Silicon Valley elite and sometimes is rented out completely for tech company retreats.
Silverado Resort, meanwhile, is a luxury getaway operated by Dolce. But it's certainly more affordable for a higher percentage of golf travelers and offers more than 400 condominium suites. Its location in the heart of Napa wine country means you're likely to wander off property in search of wine and food or other area attractions at some point. There's always a winery or locally sourced restaurant to be tried nearby, like a spot we enjoyed, Bistro Don Giovanni (bistrodongiovanni.com). And the grounds themselves are classic. A drive down the long, palm-tree-lined entrance reveals the old Miller Mansion estate, dating back to the 19th century which now serves as the main lobby area and lounge.
With the grounds and accommodations fresh off renovations, it's an exciting time for the resort to welcome back the PGA Tour.
Johnny Miller welcomes the PGA Tour back to Silverado
The North and South Course at Silverado
The Frys.com Open is going to look a whole lot different on your TV this year compared to last.
Hosted on the Silverado North Course , which was originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. (and later renovated by Johnny Miller, who is now a part owner), it still feels unmistakably like an older, classic course with small greens, narrow fairways and large bunkers.
While hardly as sweeping as the expansive golf course at CordeValle , there are enough hilly spots on the North to give the course some unique looks. The par-4 eighth hole, a narrow tee shot that doglegs left and uphill to an elevated green should cause some fits.
The 17th (which is actually the eighth hole during daily play), meanwhile, another uphill dogleg right, is planned by the Tour as a potentially drivable par 4, carrying on the recent tradition of the Frys.com's drivable 17th that has seen its share of fireworks, like Rocco Mediate's eagle hole-out in 2010.
On our particular round a couple weeks prior to the Frys.com Open, with the grandstands nearly complete, the rough was gnarly to say the least -- enough to warrant quite a few egg hunts on several holes.
But Miller is a regular visitor to Napa and, according to staff, he spends plenty of time out watching amateurs play his courses, and subsequently provides feedback on course setup from time to time. Sure, he's a U.S. Open champ, but his mandate is for these courses to play resort friendly when the PGA Tour's not in town. With golf operations managed by Troon Golf, it's safe to assume conditions will continue to be top notch.
While the North has been properly updated and has a fitting championship tee yardage for the PGA Tour, there are plans to update Silverado's South Course as well. For now, it's a little shorter, with a few more varieties of grass, and bunkers with the old sand in them.
Besides the holes themselves, the one aspect to the Silverado golf experience that can't be forgotten is: Be sure to stop off at the halfway house for a "burger dog," a tradition here with roots dating back to the Olympic Club in San Francisco. It's a thin burger patty with cheese stuck in a hot dog bun and dressed how you like it; a fine pick-me-up before taking on the backside.
Matt Ginella: Silverado Resort is a top women's golf getaway
Silverado Resort: Off the course
For fans attending the Frys or golfers in the Napa area in general, what may be Silverado's ace in the hole compared to the more isolated CordeValle is that it's right in the heart of Napa, where spectators of the Frys.com Open can stay nearby and take in the sights and tastes of wine country conveniently after golf.
Put more succinctly: the PGA Tour's wives and girlfriends probably view the Frys as a major stop.
Across the street from the golf course and hotel is the spa and fitness center, which also has an outdoor pool (one of 10 on property) and tennis courts. As for spa treatments, they are offered either indoors or out. That's common at many spas where the weather is good for the majority of the year, but here's a unique offering: a "golf massage" that doesn't just cater to the ails of the creaky golfer body, but actually uses a golf ball -- a Pinnacle, no less -- to get into the deep tissue more effectively than any thumb, knuckle or forearm.
They'll let you keep the ball afterwards, and after the pain it had just inflicted, you may want to tee it up and bash it with a driver deep into the neighboring woods.