by Keith Burton - GCN 11/3/09
The excitement at the news conference on the 27th floor of the Beau Rivage was palpable as Coast business leaders and officials with the PGA announced that the Champions Tour, called the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic, will be held April 26-May 2, 2010 at Fallen Oak, the Beau Rivage's premier golf course.
The tournament will feature three days of competitive play, a Pro-Am as well as numerous special events including a Junior Pro-Am and Junior Clinic. Champions Tour favorites Hal Sutton, Loren Roberts, Fred Funk, Jay Haas, Bernard Langer, Tom Watson, Hale Irwin, Fuzzy Zoeller and more are expected to compete.
Key the decision by the PGA to bring the event to the Coast is the Gulf Coast Business Council members.
“The Gulf Coast Business Council has a vision of seeing the Mississippi Gulf Coast become a Tier One tourism destination. Achievement of such an ambitious goal requires that we have nationally recognized events and attractions,” explained Anthony Topazi, (GCN photo right) Chairman of the Gulf Coast Business Council. “The PGA Champions Tour is a signature event for any region of this country and is a significant step in becoming a Tier One destination. This Tournament will showcase the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s premier golf, fishing, and resort amenities on a national and world-wide basis.”
Fallen Oak was designed by world renowned course architect Tom Fazio. The course features streams and marshland as well as pecan and magnolia groves. Among Fallen Oak's features are dramatic elevation changes and more than 4,000 stately oaks, magnolias, pines and other hardwood trees. In less than three years, Fallen Oak has been recognized as one of the best new courses in the country, garnering 12 national honors. The most recent is arguably one of the most prestigious: a spot in the top-20 of the elite, all-access Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses,” where Fallen Oak debuted at No. 19.
“Fallen Oak was built with the intention of challenging golfers of all abilities and handicaps. It tested the likes of Ryder Cup captains Paul Azinger and Nick Faldo during last year’s ‘Captain’s Challenge.’ Now, we look forward to seeing how Fallen Oak will stand up to some of the other legends of the game. Knowing this course and how unique it is, I have no doubt that these incredible players will find a thorough test of their games when they play it next spring.” said George P. Corchis, Jr., president and chief operating officer of MGM MIRAGE’s Mississippi Operations, which owns Fallen Oak.
The tournament will be broadcast on Golf Channel, which reaches an estimated 81.5 million households in the United States and an additional 86 million households in 112 countries around the world. It is expected that the tournament will draw volunteers and ticket buyers from around the country as well, based on data from other Champions Tour events.
The tournament is more than a nice game of golf, it is truly an event that draws national and international attention and will bring a huge dividend to the Coast in the form of visitors, golfing enthusiasts and money.
Tournament organizers also say they will need as many as 800 volunteers to help in the event, all of who will be well treated, with access to some events. In addition, other Coast golf courses will be part of the tournament as well.
The financial foundation of the tournament was established by a consortium of businesses including the
Gulf Coast Business Council, Beau Rivage, IP, Grand Biloxi, Island View, Hard Rock, Habitat for Humanity, Cellular South, the State of Mississippi, Roy Anderson Corp, Yates Construction, Hancock Bank and Southern Company, as well as Harrison and Hancock County’s Tourism Commissions.
Operating as a 501c3, the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic with donate all charitable dollars to Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Gulf Coast, Inc. “We are proud of the way our community has come together to make this happen and we are especially delighted that Habitat for Humanity of the Gulf Coast will be the beneficiary of this tournament. This organization continues to serve countless families in our community in helping to rebuild homes and lives,” added Topazi.
“Our players look forward to this terrific addition to our 2010 Schedule,” said Mike Stevens, President of the Champions Tour. “Mississippi has a rich history of hosting PGA TOUR tournaments and we’re delighted to team with these great partners for the first Champions Tour event in Mississippi.”
The tournament’s foundation hired Bruno Event Team to manage the event, including the sponsorship sales, marketing, volunteers and operational set-up. “We are very excited to be part of this event - the leadership and support the community has shown to date is incredible and is a great indicator of success for the tournament,” explained Gene Hallman, President and CEO, Bruno Event Team.
Individuals are encouraged to sign up for more information on the tournament, available sponsorship packages, volunteer opportunities and tickets at www.mississippigulfresortclassic.com. Tickets for the public to attend the event will be very affordable, costing around $15.
About the Champions Tour
The Champions Tour is a tax-exempt membership organization of professional golfers age 50 and older. Conceived in 1980 as the Senior PGA Tour, it started with just four events and purses totaling $475,000. The Champions Tour conducted 25 official Charles Schwab Cup events offering $48.9 million in prize money in 2009 and its highest average purse ever of $1.96 million. The Champions Tour's primary purpose is to provide significant competitive and earnings opportunities for players age 50 and older; to protect the integrity of the game; and to help grow the reach of the game in the U.S. and around the world. In addition to providing competitive opportunities for its membership, Champions Tour events also generate significant sums of money for charity. In addition to providing competitive opportunities for its membership, Champions Tour events generate significant sums of money for charity. The commissioner of the PGA TOUR is Tim Finchem. Mike Stevens is president of the Champions Tour. TOUR headquarters is in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Our web site address is www.PGATOUR.com.
About Gulf Coast Business Council
The Gulf Coast Business Council was established in March 2006 to provide the unified voice of business on matters of public policy important to the region. The GCBC is a private organization with some 250 by- invitation-only members who pay dues to participate. The membership includes leaders of the Chambers of Commerce, economic development organizations and businesses and industries of the three coastal counties. The organization is involved with economic and business interests on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
About Fallen Oak
About Bruno Event Team
Bruno Event Team is experienced in all facets of event management, employing a year-round staff of 60+ employees in eight offices around the country. Bruno Event Team services each client with expertise in strategic planning, marketing, advertising, public and media relations, ticket and merchandise sales, sponsor relations, hospitality consulting, event operations, event financial planning/accounting and volunteer coordination. To date, the company has been involved in 11 USGA National Championships and is currently managing five (2009 U.S. Senior Open – Carmel, IN; 2010 U.S. Women’s Open – Pittsburgh, PA; 2010 U.S. Senior Open – Seattle, WA, 2011 U.S. Women’s Open – Colorado Springs CO and 2013 U.S. Senior Open – Omaha, NE). Additional golf experience includes the Regions Charity Classic (Birmingham, AL) and Principal Charity Classic (Des Moines, IA) on the Champions TOUR; BMW Championship (St. Louis, MO and Chicago, IL) on the PGA TOUR; Bell Micro LPGA Classic (Mobile, AL), Navistar LPGA Classic (Prattville, AL) and CVS/pharmacy Challenge on the LPGA Tour; as well as the South Georgia Classic (Valdosta, GA) on the Nationwide TOUR. Visit www.brunoeventteam.com for additional information.