Dayton Valley golf course to host PGA Tour qualifying tournament for 25th straight year

Palo Alto, California's Martin Trainer drives the 2nd fairway at the tournament at Dayton Valley Golf Club Thursday.

Palo Alto, California's Martin Trainer drives the 2nd fairway at the tournament at Dayton Valley Golf Club Thursday.

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Starting Tuesday, Dayton Valley Golf Club will be hosting its annual PGA Tour qualifying event for the 25th year in a row, the longest running qualifying tournament in the nation.

The course first hosted a Stage One PGA Tour Qualifying event in 1995 and has continued to put on the event as the qualifying slate for the tour has changed.

Now under the name Korn Ferry Stage One qualifying, 72 professional golfers look to take a leap toward earning their PGA Tour card.

The top 24 players plus ties will qualify to move on from the event.

Over the last 25 years, 36 players have played at Dayton Valley and gone on to earn a PGA Tour card, including names such as Gary Woodland (2019 U.S. Open champion), Tony Finau (a top 10 finisher in all four major PGA tournaments), Charlie Hoffman and Charlie Wi, to name a few.

Collectively, those 36 players have combined for 29 PGA Tour wins and a cumulative career earnings mark over $227 million.

What brings players back

Several golfers have returned multiple times to the event to try to regain their PGA Tour card, including a handful of former University of Nevada golfers.

Some players, such as South African Warren Schutte, have been to Dayton Valley more than 10 times. Schutte shares the appearance record for the event with Chris Kamin of Phoenix, as the two have each played in the tournament 13 times.

Dayton Valley head golf pro Rick Vaughan says the fairness of the course and the hospitality of the event are a significant reason why the golf club stands as the longest running qualifying event on tour.

“I think we have a good layout. It’s a fair test. It’s not tricked up at all,” said Vaughan who has worked at the golf club since the event’s inception in 1995. “The greens over the years have been fantastic.

“They want a course where the best players move on.”

Vaughan added that the fairness of the greens and course encourage players to find the fairway throughout the day.

Outside of the course, the event is designed to feel as inviting as possible.

“Maybe most importantly, we make it a big deal. We make them feel welcome,” said Vaughan. “We are very welcoming for all the players we find.”

Along with playing in the event, homes are found for the professionals in the tournament as well as a large dinner the night before the first round of play.

James Blair, a 1997 medalist at Dayton Valley, had high praise for the event.

“I’ve been doing this for 15 years and Dayton Valley is the best course I have ever played on,” said Blair in the tournament’s press release.

Former Wolf Pack golfer Kaleb Gorbahn and Reno native Trent Virden headline the local players in the field.

Gorbahn was 8-under last year at Dayton Valley while Virden is returning for the third consecutive year after missing the qualifying mark by one stroke in 2018.

Course background

The course itself was designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay in May 1991.

The 7,218-yard course has a number of water features that play a part of at least 12 holes on the course, according to the course’s home website.

The tournament and course 18-hole record is a 10-under 62 shot by Jason Allen and Mike Pearson in 2003. The record was later tied by Randall Hutchison in 2015.

A 72-hole tournament record was set by John Ellis in 2014 when he shot a 26-under 262.

Vaughan and the course maintenance crew essentially spends all year preparing for the event.

Inside the clubhouse this year will be frames of the 36 players who have been through Dayton Valley and gone on to get their PGA Tour card.

“It’s the first year we’ve done that since it’s the 25th anniversary. We put a banner up and I think the players are really going to get a kick out of it,” Vaughan said.

Practice rounds for the tournament will run Sunday and Monday before the event officially tees off Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.

Players will start from both the first and 10th tees with exact tee times being set by Korn Ferry Tour officials prior to the first competitive round.

Spectators are encouraged to attend the event, which is free of charge.

“They are really great players and it’s just before they make it,” said Vaughan. “You have to walk, but it’s a great opportunity to watch some really, quality golfers.”


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