By RUSTY HAMPTON
When it was announced in April that the Sanderson Farms Championship PGA Tour event would be played at the Country Club of Jackson this fall, one of the first issues golf fans questioned was parking.
Unlike Annandale Golf Club in Madison, where the tournament was played from 1994-2013, CCJ does not have an abundance of land adjacent to the country club that can be used for spectator, volunteer and employee parking.
Steve Jent knew that, which is why the SFC tournament director made finalizing parking plans at CCJ one of his first priorities.
“It’s very important,” said Jent of the parking issue. “It’s new for everybody this year and we want a great experience for the spectators and the sponsors and the media and the volunteers. But we feel really good about our plan. We’ve worked closely with the Jackson Police Department and the Ridgeland Police Department to make this work.
“We’ve had countless meetings with them, been working on it for six months. What we want everyone to understand is that this is pretty typical of a PGA Tour event. Most courses do not have very much parking on site, so most have to shuttle everybody in.”
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The golfers, rules officials, some sponsors and CCJ members, most Golf Channel personnel, and selected SFC staff and CCJ employees will be allowed to park in the main CCJ lot. Most everyone else will be required to park off site and ride a shuttle to the course each day.
The shuttles for spectators with general admission tickets will depart and return to parking lot at Northpark Mall in Ridgeland, about two miles from CCJ. Those shuttles will run from 6 a.m. until one hour after play ends for Wednesday’s Pro-Am (Nov. 5) and the first and second rounds of tournament play, Thursday and Friday, Nov. 6-7. The shuttles will begin at 8 a.m. for rounds three and four on Saturday and Sunday.
VIP parking and shuttle service is set for Colonial Heights Baptist Church in Ridgeland on Thursday and Friday, and The Southern Farm Bureau building on County Line Road in Ridgeland on Saturday and Sunday.
Volunteer, handicapped, and media parking and shuttle service will operate from the parking lot of the Christ United Methodist Church on Old Canton Road in Jackson, Monday through Sunday.
All shuttle services are free.
The tournament is contracting with Client Tours of Jackson to provide large motor coaches for the general public shuttles and smaller vans and buses for the other lots.
“They’re local, so they can be flexible and have extra shuttles if needed,” Jent said.
Those who have purchased general admission tickets in advance or want to purchase tickets on the day of the event can pick up their tickets at the will-call window or purchase tickets at a temporary tournament ticket office in the Northpark Mall parking lot. Media passes will be available there as well.
Because the PGA Tour has strict policies for what can be carried into events, spectators will be checked by security personnel before boarding shuttles, said Jent.
“One of the things we want to focus on is the PGA Tour’s bag and security policies,” Jent said. “There are certain size bags you can’t take to the golf course. We will make every attempt possible to catch that at the shuttle lot.”
The general allowable dimensions for purses or tote bags is 12 inches, by 12 inches by 6 inches. Small folding chairs, binoculars, umbrellas and mobile phones are also allowed. The entire list of what isn’t allowed is on the tournament website and will be prominently displayed in signage at the shuttle loading sites.