PGA Tour: My week at the Safeway Open in the Napa Valley

NAPA, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 29: Cameron Champ hits on the 16th tee during the final round of the Safeway Open at the Silverado Resort on September 29, 2019 in Napa, California. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
NAPA, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 29: Cameron Champ hits on the 16th tee during the final round of the Safeway Open at the Silverado Resort on September 29, 2019 in Napa, California. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) /

I have lived in the Napa Valley my whole life but had never been to a PGA Tour event even though one takes place eight minutes from my house each year. This year, I volunteered at the Safeway Open. This is my experience.

Golf is one of the most underrated professional sports. This could be one of the reasons I have never been to a PGA Tour event in my 23 years. When I was grocery shopping at my local Safeway one night, the Safeway Open was being advertised.

As a sports journalist who is just starting out in her career, I thought, ‘Why not volunteer and get the feel of a PGA Tour event in case I ever need to cover one in the future?’

The Safeway Open takes place in Napa, California at the Silverado Resort & Spa each year, less than 10 minutes from my house. When I went to sign up, all the media positions were full so I decided to sign up to scan tickets and be a greeter.

Being a PGA volunteer is actually a super cool gig.

You must sign up for three four-hour shifts. In return, you receive a volunteer pass that gets you in all five days, two five-day passes for family or friends, an Under Armour hat, polo, and jacket, as well as breakfast, lunch, snacks, and drinks each day you work.

I worked Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Wednesday was the most interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it was 103 degrees, which was ridiculous. Secondly, it was the Celebrity Pro-Am.

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The main person people were coming to watch that day was some guy named Stephen Curry. The number of people in Golden State Warriors gear was insane. He must be pretty popular considering he got to team up with Phil Mickelson.

Now, remember almost a year ago when I wrote about a girl named Riley who wrote to Curry asking why there was not a girl’s section on his Under Armour page? Well, I learned after writing that story that Riley is actually my next-door neighbor.

Small World.

She was one of Curry’s most popular fans to come visit him on Wednesday. I scanned her and her dad’s tickets and knew exactly who she was coming to see.

Fans also showed up to see former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Tony Romo. He actually did incredibly well, which was kind of weird yet cool to see.

Also, former Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants outfielder Cody Ross told me he didn’t have a ticket cause he was playing in the Pro-Am and I almost fainted.

After the excitement and heat exhaustion from Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were much calmer and cooler as the first and second rounds of the Open took place.

Some unique things about the Safeway Open, in case you are thinking about attending next year, are that there is a whole ‘Food and Wine Pavillion’ showcasing some of Napa’s top chefs and wineries.

Everyone was raving about someone’s fried chicken all week, so it has to be a good time down there. There is also a concert each night following the end of each round. This year’s musical acts included Jake Owen, Bad Company, and Rob Thomas.

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One con? The parking sucks. My poor 2007 Mustang did not like driving through those bumpy fields of dead grass. At least they shuttle you right to the tournament entrance though.

On Sunday, the winner was announced. This year, Sacramento native Cameron Champ took home the wine barrel trophy. Oh and a little over $1 million.

I really enjoyed my first PGA Tour experience last week. It made me realize how important it is for athletes like Stephen Curry, Tony Romo, and musicians like Justin Timberlake and Niall Horan to take part in Pro-Ams to get fans who normally wouldn’t go see golf out to these events.

If you grew up or live in Napa, like me, you know there isn’t much to do here that doesn’t involve wine. The Safeway Open is such a cool tradition here that more of us Napans should embrace.

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If you have never been to a PGA Tour event before, I encourage you to go. You may be surprised by how much you actually enjoy golf.