The Barracuda Championship will have a new date next season – as long as it returns for a 22nd season, and there's plenty of optimism that will be the case.
With the Montreux Golf & Country Club's board currently going through the next steps in determined the future of the tournament on its course, the PGA Tour released its 2020 schedule, with the annual Reno stopping moving to the Fourth of July weekend.
The Barracuda Championship will remain on an encumbered date, meaning it will be played opposite the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, which draws the top golfers in the world. But it does have a slot on the schedule for the 22nd year with play from July 2-5. The schedule change was made because of the 2020 Olympics in Japan that will be held in late July and early August.
“It’s something we’re probably going to be looking at every four years with the Olympics now including golf," Chris Hoff, Barracuda's tournament director since 2013, told Nevada Sports Net about the new date. "I think from a weather standpoint, we’re probably in a similar situation as we’d be a few weeks later. I like being a little earlier so a lot of the guys turning pro coming out of the NCAA might not have used up their exemptions by then and we might have a better chance of getting more guys. I think we had an incredible field (this year), starting with our winner, Collin (Morikawa), and guys like Will Gordon and Justin Suh who were All-Americans with Collin. Moving up a few weeks will increase our chances of getting more guys like that."
Next year wouldn't be the first time the Barracuda has been played in early July. In 2016, the tournament wrapped up July 3, also because it was an Olympic year.
"We were the same date in 2016 and that was one of our better years in terms of sponsorship and attendance," Hoff said. "We’re pretty bullish on our future and we tackled the weather as best we could this year and still ended up on the upside from last year in most of our metrics and we’re looking forward to another good year.”
The only hurdle left to clear is getting approval to continue the tournament at Montreux, which has hosted the tournament since its inception in 1999. In September 2015, Montreux's membership voted to continue to hold the tournament for four more years through 2019. That agreement is up after the just concluded tournament, which puts the future of the event at Montreux back in the hands of the board.
“We are certainly planning on coming back," Hoff said. "We have some steps to go through with the golf course and we are waiting to hear from the board on next steps."
Hoff said he was pleased with how the tournament worked around inclement weather this season, including delays due to rain during the first two rounds. The eventual winner was Morikawa, a recent Cal graduate and rising star in the game who helped boost the tournament's profile after his victory.
“At the very least, it’s going to keep the tournament brand out there," Hoff said. "It happened last week and will happen this week, when they talk about Collin and his accomplishments, the tournament’s name will be right up there. In the conversations with him the couple of weeks following the tournament, he’s thrilled to be our champion and it’s something he’ll always remember.”