Darrell Moody: How best can Barracuda grow?
Chris Hoff is asked one question more than any other in his stint as tournament director of the Barracuda Championship.
Is the Barracuda ever going to get its own date?
Certainly I would love to see that because it might be the closest Nevada residents get to see a Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia,and maybe Tiger Woods (if he ever comes back). I’d love to see what big names the Barracuda could get if it was a stand-alone event.
Hoff said there are two major issues — date for an event and money.
“There is a small window when we can play a tournament at Montreux because of the climate,” Hoff said. “This year we had multi feet of snow. We would have to host between June and September. Right now that part of the schedule is full with long-standing events and majors. You have to have an opening.”
Second is ecomomics. The purse would have to be increased, according to Hoff. He said that could be more money from the title sponsor or more money from some of the other sponsors of the tournament.
“Barracuda has been great,” Hoff said. “They have a company conference here in conjunction with the tournament. Right now, everybody is pretty happy with the way things are going.”
I would think that if Barracuda got its own date, the purse would probably have to grow to around $6 million.
The crowds for the tournament have never been what I thought they should be, and I attribute that to golf, like many other sports, being a name-recognition sport.
There are a lot of good players who come to Montreux every year, but the casual golf fan which is what the tournament needs to be successful, doesn’t know many of the names so they stay away.
Because the Barracuda is an alternate event, it draws players not ranked high enough for the Bridgestone Invitational, young pros looking to establish themselves or older veterans who need to win some money to maintain their full-time status on the PGA Tour.
There are some well-known names here — Geoff Ogilvy, Ricky Barnes, K.J. Choi, Nick Watney, Hunter Mahan, Padraig Harrington, Angel Cabrera, Davis Love III, Ryan Palmer and Retief Goosen to name a few. All those guys have had success on the PGA Tour over the years.
Some of the younger names to keep an eye on are Scott Stallings, Ollie Schneiderjans, Sam Saunders, J.T. Poston and Matt Flores, who held the lead at the Canadian Open.
Another name local fans know is Andres Gonzales, who played in the Dayton PGA qualifier a few times. He had a top-5 finish at the Barracuda in 2012.
After watching Mark Mulder win three straight American Century tournaments and the way Steph Curry played in the final round of this year’s ACC event, I asked Hoff about extending a sponsor’s exemption to either of those guys.
He seemed more interested in making it all about golf, and helping out up-and-coming youngsters.
Maverick McNealy, Dru Love and Wyndham Clark are in on sponsor exemptions.
McNealy, according to Hoff, has been the top-ranked amateur in the past. Clark has been one of the top players in the Pac-12.
Love is the son of Davis Love III.
“He (Love) battled some injuries in college,” Hoff said. “He is a big kid and hits it a long way.”
I remember when Reno’s Todd Fischer and Sacramento’s Spencer Levin got sponsor exemptions in the early years of the tournament.
I’m sure that was done with the hopes of drawing some more fans.
Maybe Barracuda has changed its thinking, and that’s fine. In the past, the tournament seemed to be looking for something to get fans to the course.
I was there when 14-year-old Tadd Fukijawa got a sponsor’s exemption, and he didn’t play well.
Ditto for Michelle Wie, who didn’t make the cut. There were, however, more female fans on the course in those two days than ever before.
Curry would definitely bring in some impressive crowds, but maybe the Barracuda people are afraid of the circus that could happen in terms of fans not displaying proper etiquette at a PGA event.
Mulder definitely has the game, and he certainly would be competitive. The former MLB pitcher has shown he can play in altitude, and is distance control is impressive.