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Big golf tournament runs Oct. 30-Nov. 5

Classic should have major economic impact

MADISON — With 100,000 people expected to turn out for the Professional Golf Association’s Southern Farm Bureau Golf Classic Oct. 30 through Nov. 5 at the Annandale Golf Club, it goes without saying that the tournament will have one heck of an economic impact to the area.

Demographic studies have revealed that of the spectators who will attend the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, the majority are between 35 and 49 years of age. And most of those people earn more than $70,000 a year and are college graduates in executive level or management positions. Also, they live within 200 miles of the greater Jackson area.

Last year the tournament was moved to the fall for the first time. Average attendance for the summer had been 77,000 spectators. But based on a demographic and economic impact study done in the past, the tournament should impact Jackson’s economy at $8 million annually in the summer, and that number should go up to between $10 million and $11 million with the higher turnout expected this week.

There are several factors that figure into the tournament’s expected turnouts. Two weeks ago according to the National Weather Service, Jackson averaged a high of 72 and a low of 56, with rainfall less than half an inch over the seven-day period. That is down from a 110-degree heat index in July.

The second factor, according to tournament coordinator Steve Hutton, is the fact that the tournament is the last one of the year.

“Now we attract approximately 85 out of the top 125 players, as opposed to 25 of the top 125 players when we had the tournament in the summer,” he said. “That brings more fans.”

But golf fans are not the only people in attendance for the tournament, Hutton said.

“Corporations use this as customer appreciation and as a way to showcase their companies,” he said. “The Mississippi Development Authority uses this tournament to bring in golf writers for national publications, and for that matter, international publications.”

Last year, the tournament experienced two good days of attendance. Play was cancelled Friday for Payne Stewart’s memorial service, and Sunday, which would have been the final round of the tournament, had to be cancelled because of 4.2 inches of rain that fell.

Despite everything though, the tournament experienced the best Thursday of any prior Thursday and the best Saturday of any prior Saturday.

Trustmark Corporation recently announced it will be a presenting sponsor for the tournament, joining Canadian National/Illinois Central Railroad and the Mississippi Development Authority.

“We are delighted to become associated with the Southern Farm Bureau Classic as a presenting sponsor,” said Richard G. Hickson, president and chief executive officer of Trustmark Corporation. “This partnership matches well with Trustmark’s continuing efforts to further economic and community development by assisting to bring exceptional events to Mississippi.”

Robert Morgan, executive director of the $2.2-million Southern Farm Bureau Classic, added that Trustmark is known for its community involvement.

“…We’re excited that they are part of the classic,” he said. “Their participation will allow Century Club Charities to continue the work of hosting the Classic, which has generated over $1 million for charities right here in Mississippi.”

Morgan added that children’s charities receive the major part of the tournament proceeds, and that Southern Farm Bureau Insurance Companies, the title sponsor, and presenting sponsors are to be commended for their involvement.

This year the tournament is entering its 33rd year. It provides a valuable boost in terms of tourism, economic development and image enhancement for the state of Mississippi.

Contact MBJ staff writer Elizabeth Kirkland at ekirkland@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1042.

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