Jackson — On July 25, Ed McEnroe officially took over as the new tournament director of the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, overseeing the PGA Tour event for Birmingham, Ala.-based Bruno Event Team (BET). He replaced Nathan Grube, who joined the Buick Championship, formerly the Greater Hartford Open, in Connecticut.
Even though McEnroe will have less than three months to prepare for the 38th-annual Southern Farm Bureau Classic — slated for October 3-9 at the Annandale Golf Club in Madison — he is up to the challenge.
The Buffalo, N.Y., native grew up in South Florida, and played basketball and golf at Methodist College in North Carolina. He earned a master’s degree in sports administration from St. Thomas University in Miami. While there, he completed internships with the Florida Panthers professional hockey team, Miami Heat of the NBA and Royal Caribbean Classic Champions tour event, for whom he was eventually named tournament director. Most recently, he directed corporate partnerships for the Ford Championship at Doral PGA tour event and Miccosukee Championship on the nationwide tour.
The Mississippi Business Journal caught up with McEnroe and asked his views on planned strategies and enhancements for the Classic, the professional golf industry in general and how the PGA event successfully competes for entertainment dollars.
Mississippi Business Journal: Since you are starting this job so close to tournament time, will this year be a settling-in year for you, or do you have some strategies in mind that you want to go ahead and implement?
Ed McEnroe: I’ve heard nothing but good things about the position of the Classic from a presentation and community awareness standpoint. That said, since we’re at two months out, I definitely want to focus on areas that can positively impact the upcoming event. Sponsorship development and working with Southern Farm Bureau, other sponsors and the Century Club Charities to make the Classic “the place to be,” not just for golf enthusiasts, but for people of all ages and interests, are areas in which we can make an impact.
MBJ: Within the next couple of years, what enhancements would you like to see made to the tournament event?
EM: One area the team is working hard on this year, which I think will blossom in the future, is on expansion of events within the event: after-play entertainment, interactive areas and expansion of on-course public hospitality areas. We’ll always focus on bringing world-class golf to the community, but if we can continue to enhance the experience for people of all ages, not only will the event have more sticking power, but it may bring value to potential corporate partners that aren’t traditionally involved in professional golf.
MBJ: Is this your first gig with Bruno? Have you attended the Classic?
EM: Yes, this is my first gig with Bruno Event Team, but I’ve had the opportunity to work with many of their employees. Their reputation in the industry is phenomenal. I’m very excited to join the BET Team.
I’ve never had the opportunity to attend the event. My initial impression from spending a day meeting with the Century Club Charities and Bruno Event Team and speaking with the Tour is that Southern Farm Bureau is an extremely supportive title sponsor, the pros like the golf course, and community support is very good.
MBJ: How did directing the Royal Caribbean Golf Classic prepare you for this role? How will that experience help build corporate interest?
EM: A major challenge in managing events in South Florida is competition for consumer and corporate support. Not only do we have four major sports properties, but we’ve also felt the burden of competing with South Beach, festivals and other entertainment options. Developing additional corporate interest is definitely a major focus. Hopefully, my time in South Florida has prepared me to bring creative ways to find value for new potential sponsors, ultimately allowing us to enhance the product we put on the course and increase charitable donations.
MBJ: What sparked your interest in tournament management?
EM: I always thought I’d end up working for an NHL (National Hockey League) franchise. After working in the NHL and professional golf, I was drawn in by having the opportunity to wear many hats, and the opportunity to see, firsthand, how the event’s charitable initiatives can impact a community.
MBJ: Have you had a chance to settle down in Jackson with your family?
EM: I’ve only had the opportunity to spend a day in the area, but Jackson is beautiful and the people seem great. My wife, Sharon, and six-year-old daughter haven’t been to Jackson yet, but it seems like 50 times during my one-day visit, I said, ‘Man, I can’t wait ‘til Sharon and Mackenzie see this place.’ It really seems like a great family environment.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at firstname.lastname@example.org.