Behind the scenes of Barracuda Championship 2015
For the 17th year, the Montreux Golf & Country Club is set to host a PGA event when 132 of the world's top golfers compete in the Barracuda Championship Aug. 6-9.
The tourney has a purse of $3.1 million with $558,000 going to the winner.
The Barracuda Championship, once known as the Reno-Tahoe Open, is one of only 47 cities to host a PGA Tour event. That's a big deal, said Chris Hoff, tournament director of the event.
"When you look at some of the cities that don't play host to a PGA event – Portland, Seattle, Boise or Salt Lake City, for example – you realize how special this really is," Hoff said. "The exposure for the area is immeasurable."
"The PGA is one of the most well-respected sports brands in the world. The respect and admiration globally for the PGA Tour is huge. Charitable-wise, the PGA has given more than $2 billion to charities. With all the great things the PGA Tour does around the world, we're honored to be part of that here in Reno. Having a professional sport here in Reno is special, too."
As in the past, the Reno tournament will be held at the same time as the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio.
Since that's an invitational with a purse of more than $9 million, the Barracuda Championship will lose out on about 50 or 60 players, Hoff said.
"But at the same time, we still have literally seen some of the world's best golfers here at Montreux over the years," he said. "We've had last year's winner Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Luke Donald…the list goes on. We've had players that have won Majors, players that have been ranked No. 1 at one time. You never what player you're seeing here that is going to be the next Jordan Spieth."
The Reno area has a short window for hosting a golf event of such magnitude, Hoff said, and the PGA Tour needs an opposing tourney for those players who don't make the Invitational, and the Barracuda Championship fills that role nicely.
Because it's considered an alternate event, the winner of the Reno tourney doesn't earn a Masters Tournament invitation. However, the winner does earn 300 FedEx Cup points, a two-year PGA tour exemption and an entry to the PGA Championship.
The Barracuda Championship, now in its second year with Barracuda Networks as the title sponsor, is the only PGA Tour event to use the Modified Stableford scoring system, which awards eight points for a double eagle, five for an eagle, two for a birdie, and subtracts one point for a bogey and three points for a double bogey. Par neither awards nor subtracts points.
The player who accumulates the most points in the tourney is the winner. The format encourages aggressive play, Hoff said.
"It pays to go for broke because the worst you can do on a hole is double bogey, at which point you can literally pick up your ball," he said. "If players get a chance to fire at a pin or make a miraculous recovery, in this format they are going to do that. It makes for some very exciting golf, especially with hole No. 18 being a par 5. An eagle is certainly in play on that hole, and several holes as well."
After the first two days, the field of 132 golfers is cut to the low 70s for the tourney's final two days, Hoff said.
All four days of the event will be broadcast globally on The Golf Channel, Hoff said. But for those fortunate enough to attend, there are many ways to tailor the experience to one's needs.
"Some people like to find out when their favorite golfers are playing and they follow them around the course," said Hoff, who is hopeful for about 50,000 attendees.
"Others like to watch a certain hole, or just find a shady spot under some trees. There's also a covered public viewing area on the ninth green, and hospitality tents on the 9th, 15th and 18th holes. There's also concession stands throughout the golf course, and food trucks behind the ninth green. We try to make it as easy and fun as possible for people to have a good time."
The cooler temperatures made possible by the higher elevation of the 726-acre Montreux community (about 5,500 to 6,000 feet above sea level), plus the plethora of trees, elevation changes and about 540 homes on this Jack Nicklaus-designed course makes it a favorite for players and viewers alike.
"Because of the elevation, the galls go about 10 to 12 percent farther, so we'll see 400-foot drives quite often," Hoff said. "The course is in phenomenal shape – the players say it's some of the best greens they play all year – and the hospitality they (players) receive, they're treated like rock stars and they love it. Word of mouth has been our best recruiter for 16 years."
Ticket prices are $20 per day, or $55 for a season pass good from Aug. 3-9, $85 for a Clubhouse season pass, and $175 for a two-day pass (choose either Aug. 6-7 or Aug. 8-9, or both) with hospitality tent access on the 18th hole.
There's also a special Mixology at Montreux ticket that costs $45 and includes entry into the golf tournament on Aug. 8, a shuttle to and from downtown Reno, two drink tickets, a food ticket, yard games, entertainment by DJ Grey Grey and a cocktail-tasting contest.