Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic: need for title sponsor becoming very real
For the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic to remain a part of the PGA Tour Champions, the tournament might have to adopt a different name. According to Tournament Director Steve Nieman, the need for a title sponsor is becoming very real and the future of the annual event is very much in question.
In 2010, a consortium group came together to sponsor the inaugural Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic. Those sponsors have done their part for the last eight years, but now Tournament Director Steve Nieman is challenging someone else to step up. “We have got to have a title sponsor going forward because we’re just at that place now in order to grow it to the next level and for it to be financially successful, we need a title sponsor and it’s too good.”
Each year, Nieman says Fallen Oak Golf Club is one of the top three courses on tour, but of the 27 venues lined up for 2017, Biloxi is the third smallest market on tour. “We don’t have that luxury on the Mississippi Gulf Coast where we have corporate headquarters so it takes a lot of creativity to look at how our radius can be expanded and look how we can build a great product. We hope that someone can emerge to be that title sponsor that sees the value of doing business here on the Gulf Coast and all of the great amenities that we have to offer.”
A big part of that value is a strong field of 75 featuring golfers like John Daly and his vibrant collection of pants, US President’s Cup team captain Steve Stricker and five World Golf Hall of Famers. None of which seem to like the idea of revenue fatigue. MGRC Tournament Participant Bobby Gage said, “It would be a shame because it’s such a good golf course. It’s so much fun to play because every hole is different.”
“I was talking to John Daly and he had not seen the golf course or played it. He played about 13 holes today and he said ‘I just can’t believe that golf course is as good as it is,’” said Nieman.
MGRC Tournament Participant Rod Spittle said, “I mean that’s just the polite challenge that all the tournament directors have for us. Again, we’re very blessed to have a solid schedule of 25 or 26 events. I’ve known Steve a long time and he’s done a terrific job here. Again, without a title sponsor it just makes things harder. I mean, there’s no doubt about it, but it’s been a great community effort here and you probably know that better than I do. Hopefully, we’re able to stay in this market for a few more years.”
The course pretty much sells itself, but the rest will be up to Nieman and company to use this year’s tournament as a week long campaign to finally get that big player on the green. “This is our best opportunity, this week, to sell a title sponsor for this tournament going forward and we have done a lot of work. We’ll have some people here this week and if you will we’ll call it show off. We’re going to show Mississippi off and we’re going to make her proud.”
Coincidentally, today was actually Niemen’s birthday. He says getting a title sponsor locked in would be the best present he could ask for.