How PGA Tour tried to give customers their Ole Miss-Alabama fix on Saturday

Spectators walked the aisles of the Jackson Country Club in the third round of the Sanderson Farm Championship Saturday.

It was a great participation one day with occasional light rain. The weather was never meant to cause interference as much as the college football clashes that were on the minds of most customers.

The crowds started to clear around 2:30 p.m. when No.12 Ole Miss started against No.1 Alabama. Shortly after that game ended, Mississippi State kicked off against Texas A&M just after 5:30 p.m.

“It was herds, everyone was coming out of here,” said Brett Barham, a Sanderson Farms Championship spectator and Mississippi State graduate in 1994. “Everyone was like a pack of wolves, moving around. in groups to find the game, whether they leave to watch it or go to some of the areas where they were presenting the game. “

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Madison's Brett Barham was one of the fans watching the Old Miss football game with Alabama on a big screen away from home during the Sanderson Farms Championship at Jackson Country Club on Saturday.

The Ole Miss game started just 194 miles west of the Country Club of Jackson, at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, and nationally it was the SEC’s biggest game of the week. .

Earlier this week, Sanderson Farms Championship Director Steve Jent told the Clarion Ledger that part of the reason he scheduled this year’s event this weekend was because Mississippi State and Ole Miss both played on the road.

“Obviously I can’t influence their schedule, but we like it to be the weekends when they’re not at home,” Jent said. “We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing.”

The approach Jent used this year with the tournament was to embrace the existence of SEC football instead of trying to compete with it.

Saturday’s theme invited spectators to wear their college colors and visit the hatchback-style areas along the course to watch the football games live.

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One of those areas was Walker’s Cay, where spectators could buy food or have a beer with several outdoor tables and two large screens showing games. It was an area of ​​Ridgeland, Tyler Malouf said she was unaware until she sat in the grandstand to watch the golfers at the 18th hole on Saturday.

“It was nice to be able to sit here to watch football, have a drink and then also see what’s going on on the golf course,” said Malouf, a 2011 Auburn graduate.

Ridgeland's Tyler Malouf (left) and George Malouf (right) watch the Ole Miss vs Alabama football game on the big screen outdoors with their friend Betsy Powell of Jackson during the Sanderson Farms Championship at the Country Club by Jackson on Saturday.

Malouf was also at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Friday’s second round, and she believed there were more fans than on Saturday then.

“I think (the Ole Miss game) has definitely affected the number of guests here,” she said.

She also believed more fans would have shown up on Saturday if they had known they could sit in an area like Walker’s Cay.

For Ole student Miss Evan Abney, however, it was mostly locked in the Sanderson Farms Championship. Dressed in a navy blue Ole Miss polo shirt, Abney said he started following golf more closely last year during the COVID-19 shutdown, which was also when he started playing golf. golf itself. As a Mississippi native, this weekend was his first opportunity to tap into his newfound love of the sport and watch a PGA Tour event live.

“Obviously if people can’t get to Alabama or (Texas A&M), I feel like it’s the best place to be outside of that for sure,” Abney said. .

Event coordinators like Jent have tried to maintain a presence even on Saturday in the midst of SEC football, but it is sometimes a difficult task.

“We provide great hospitality. It’s just kind of organic growth,” Jent said. “There’s nothing that we really feel like we need to do this or that. It’s just about polishing things up and growing from there.”

Contact Rashad Milligan at 601-862-6198 or [email protected] Follow @RashadMilligan on Twitter.

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