GOLF: PGA’s Reno-Tahoe Open moves back to Aug. 4-7
RENO, Nev. (AP) – The PGA Tour is moving the Reno-Tahoe Open back to its traditional slot the first week of August after a shift to the middle of July last year caused a rift between tourism officials over dueling tournaments in Reno and Lake Tahoe.
The 2011 tourney will be held Aug. 4-7 at Montreux Golf & Country Club, tour officials confirmed on Friday. That’s Reno’s traditional slot the week before the PGA Championship, opposite the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Ohio.
“We asked for the date and the tour granted it for us,” Jana Smoley, executive director of the Reno-Tahoe Open, said.
“It is pretty huge for us. We are really excited,” she said Friday in a telephone interview from Texas.
For the first time last year, the Reno tourney that is carried on the Golf Channel was held the same week as the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship that NBC has televised from Lake Tahoe in the middle of July since 1990.
Tourism officials at Tahoe complained that it was a shortsighted move that would undermine efforts to jointly promote the region. Carol Chaplin, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, said at the time it was “a disservice to golf fans in the region that have had two annual tournaments.”
NBC Sports Vice President Jon Miller said the change didn’t end up hurting attendance at the 2010 celebrity tourney at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Stateline.
“It was a record-breaking year for us, over 40,000 people,” he said on Friday.
But Miller acknowledged the head-to-head competition was not an ideal situation for fans and sponsors at the two destinations 60 miles apart.
“Obviously it didn’t serve the golf fan or the golf community that well,” Miller said.
“Now, I give the RTO a lot of credit to get this changed. I think it is great for them,” he said. “People can enjoy both events and showcase an area that is one of the great hotbeds of golf.”
The Reno-Tahoe Open’s attendance totaled 32,000 last year, up 17 percent from 2008, tourney officials said.
In addition to concerns about the conflict with the celebrity tournament, Smoley said the Reno sponsors like the first week of August for next summer’s tournament because the Hot August Nights festival traditionally held that week is pushing back to the second week of August.
That will free up more hotel rooms and provide consecutive weeks of premium business to local casinos, she said.
“We just thought this would be a win-win for us and our partners,” Smoley said.
Ty Votaw, the PGA Tour’s executive vice president, confirmed the Reno-Tahoe Open officials indicated the first week of August was a better date for them.
“We wanted to do everything we could do to help,” he said. “Every schedule is like a set of dominoes, where if you move one thing…. But this seemed to work out well.”