Golf

PGA Tour's Sanderson Farms Championship still planned, despite water crisis


JACKSON, Miss. — A Sanderson Farms Championship executive “absolutely” plans to hold the PGA Tour event as scheduled in Jackson.

Steve Jent, executive director of the Sanderson Farms Championship, said the Country Club of Jackson has been unaffected by the city’s water crisis since it operates its own self-sufficient water system with water from a nearby aquifer. The golf course is also in “great shape” despite overflow from a few creeks as torrential rains hit central Mississippi in late August.

While the country club has avoided the issues plaguing most of Jackson, Jent said he’s been keeping an eye on how hotels and restaurants on the city’s water supply are faring to ensure they’ll be able to handle the increased business from tourists. A tourism official says she thinks the hospitality industry will be ready.

The tournament, which runs Sept. 29-Oct. 2, could provide a shot in the arm to the local economy, as the tournament’s expected economic impact in 2021 was $15.7 million, according to Yolanda Clay-Moore, communications director for Visit Jackson.

Jent expects 30,000 fans will visit the course the week of the event, and he said there will likely be several thousand more who come to town but don’t visit the course. “Quite a few” stay just north of Jackson in Ridgeland and Madison County where tap water is safe to drink, Jent said, but many will are expected to stay and eat in Jackson-area hotels and restaurants, both of which are “experiencing a challenge,” Clay-Moore said.

Despite that challenge, Clay-Moore said the hotels are faring relatively well thanks to emergency systems the businesses had in place before the current crisis. The hotels on the city’s water supply are asked to follow the guidelines set by the Mississippi Department of Health which say guests can shower with tap water but should drink and brush their teeth with bottled water.

Restaurants in town have had to get innovative to handle the water crisis, and some have had to temporary close as water pressures dipped below usable levels.

With still no answer from city and state officials on when the crisis will be resolved, Clay-Moore and Jent are hopeful the government will get some things fixed by the tournament’s Sept. 29 start.

“We’re four weeks out,” Jent said. “That’s our advantage, right? So we still have a month before the tournament so the city can get some things fixed.”



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