PGA qualifying tourney in Dayton promotes Carson’s golf world
DAYTON – Future golf stars of the PGA Tour will play Dayton Valley Golf Club all next week as they take their first steps to earn a Tour card.
Notah Begay III, winner of the inaugural Reno-Tahoe Open in August, played this tournament in the past, as have Tour newcomers Kevin Sutherland and Gabriel Hjertstedt.
“You’re going to see some quality golfers,” said Jim Kepler, Dayton Valley’s general manager and head golf pro.
Spectators are welcome on all tournament days Tuesday to Friday. Admission is free. Kepler said usually no more than 200 people line the fairways.
Golf starts at 9 a.m. each day at the first and 10th tees.
Dayton Valley is hosting its fifth PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. Dayton is one of 12 golf courses across the country hosting Stage One qualifying tournaments at the same time.
Generally, the golfers with the top 25 to 30 low scores at each tournament after four rounds move on to Stage Two. Only the top 20 or so scores after Stage 3 end up with a PGA Tour card.
Some 1,000 golfers enter the Stage One tournaments with about 78 to 85 expected to tee up at Dayton Valley, Kepler said.
“They pay $4,000 to play in this event and most of them go home with nothing,” Kepler said.
Dayton Valley Golf Club, naturally, will be closed to public and member play all next week. The PGA is paying $20,000 to rent the course.
More important, though, for the golf course and the Carson City area’s emerging golf market is how the qualifying tournament – often called Q school – will build the reputation of the Divine Nine. That is the collective marketing name of the golf courses in Carson City, Carson Valley and Dayton.
“The qualifying tournament raises the prestige of the Divine Nine in the golf world and that is a pretty tight-knit community,” said Candy Duncan, executive director of the Carson City Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. “The Divine Nine is becoming more and more well known.”
The Divine Nine includes Dayton Valley, Carson Valley Golf Course, Empire Ranch Golf Course, Eagle Valley East and West golf courses, Silver Oak Golf Club, Sierra Nevada Golf Ranch, Sunridge Golf Club and the Golf Club at Genoa Lakes.
Several of these course only opened in the past two years. Dayton Valley, designed by Arnold Palmer, opened in 1991.
Duncan, working with the Divine Nine consortium, is using golf as a primary tool to make Carson City a tourism destination.
Carson Station and Pinon Plaza, both owned by Clark Russell, fill about 60 percent to 70 percent of their rooms with golfers from June to September with some days having golfers in all the rooms, sales director Jackie Behan said.
The Ormsby House has golfers in some 40 percent of its rooms between April and October, marketing director Michael Hyams said.
“Craig Miyamoto brought a group of 20 men to stay at Carson Station in August,” Behan said. “He now is coming back to Dayton to try to earn his PGA card.”
Station/Plaza offered discount rates to Q school golfers while the Ormsby House will accommodate 30 to 40 golfers for no charge.
“It’s good for business,” Hyams said. “It’s good to get the name out. They go back to their respective communities and talk up how good the golf is here. We get a lot of business from exactly that. It’s strictly word of mouth.”
Dayton Valley Golf Club, especially, gains name recognition from the annual visit of the qualifying tournament. Kepler estimates that 6 to 8 percent of the 35,000 rounds of golf played at his course during the year come because of Dayton Valley’s link with the PGA.
“I think this has a great impact on our tourist trade,” Kepler said. “This will help with future sales. It’s all part of our marketing package.”
The Q school is actually the second PGA sanctioned event at Dayton Valley this month. On Oct. 7 and 8, 16 golfers from the Senior PGA Tour took part in the Pinon Plaza Senior Pro-Am, Behan said.
Golfers playing in the qualifying tournament will experience a somewhat different course than Dayton Valley members do. Crews have worked the course for some three weeks to meet PGA specifications.
“We are mowing two or three times a day instead of one time a day,” Kepler said. “The greens are firmer. Normally the greens are an eighth of an inch and now they are 5/64 of an inch. We’ve also increased the length of the rough from 1-1/4 inches to 2-1/2 inches.”