On a special episode of On The Green Podcast, I welcomed Steve Jent, Executive Director of Sanderson Farms Championship, to talk about his own experiences, his role within the tournament, and the incredible impact Sanderson Farms Championship has on the local community.
Originally from Indianapolis, Jent attended DePauw University, followed by an MBA program at Wake Forest University. He has a distinguished professional background that includes work with 3M, The Wyndham Championship, and the Walt Disney Company. He credits his multifaceted career in the events, sales, and sports industries for setting him up well to serve the PGA TOUR in his current role.
This year was Jent’s ninth year as Executive Director of The Sanderson Farms Championship. The 2022 tournament took place from September 26th through October 2nd at the Country Club of Jackson, located in Jackson, Mississippi. Sanderson Farms, which has recently been renamed Wayne-Sanderson Farms, has remained the tournament’s Title Sponsor since 2013.
To say the charitable impact is a huge priority for the Century Club Charities tournament team would be an understatement. Steve says, “We do this because we want to impact the charities in our community. We are a charity impacting other charities.” Through the Sanderson Farms Championship, their team, composed of 320 people, donated $1.5M last year alone to Children’s of Mississippi, the state’s only children’s hospital. Their team is in the Top Ten in Charitable Giving for the PGA TOUR and was awarded “Best Charity Integration” in both 2018 and 2019.
In addition to charity, the tournament’s economic impact within the Jackson community is notable. The event boasts a 330M potential TV viewership across the world. With 144 players, their caddies, 250 Golf Channel employees, 15 Rules Officials, and hundreds of guests, an estimated $40M flows into local hotels, rentals, restaurants, and shopping in Jackson and its surrounding communities each year. During the tournament week alone, 350 jobs are created to make the event happen.
Towards the end of August, major flooding affected the Jackson area, threatening to delay preparations ahead of this year’s tournament. Heavy rains in a short amount of time overwhelmed the area’s water treatment facility, affecting water supply to homes, shops, and restaurants. Luckily, the country club saw little impact to the course. Though the rain did slow down operations, the team remained on track to finish all of the necessary prep work.
When asked, “How do you get better every year?” Steve explains that there are a few things that make their tournament continually reach its fullest potential. The first, he says, is its people. Encouraging people and sponsors to get involved is critical to building the tournament into something bigger. The second is hard work. “Rolling up your sleeves,” Steve says, is key to making their event successful. Last, he mentioned that having incredible players and fun events make people want to come to the tournament. As Steve says, “It’s a labor of love every year.”
If you’d like more information about the Sanderson Farms Championship, you can visit their website at https://www.sandersonfarmschampionship.com/. To hear more of my conversation with Steve Jent about the Sanderson Farms Championship on the PGA TOUR, listen to the full On The Green Podcast episode on our website or your favorite streaming service. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on upcoming episodes each month!