Golf News

Sanderson Farms Championship may feel impact of layoffs at sponsor

PGA Tour prize money payouts for 2023 Sanderson Farms Championship

JACKSON, Miss. — The news that Wayne-Sanderson Farms laid off 40 employees at its Laurel campus could have deeper meaning for Mississippi’s only PGA Tour event.

Ever since Cargill and privately held Continental Grain formed a joint venture to acquire Sanderson Farms in 2021 for $4.53 billion, questions have swirled about whether the giant chicken company would continue to sponsor the Sanderson Farms Championships at the Country Club of Jackson.

Before the merger, Sanderson Farms had been a Mississippi-owned company, with its home base in Laurel. It had been run by long-time CEO and chairman of the board, Joe Sanderson, who championed the PGA Tour being in the Magnolia State.

Since Sanderson Farms and Wayne have been a part of the tournament, they have raised more than $17 million for charity.

The 2024 event will be the third since the merger into Wayne-Sanderson Farms. The original contract with Sanderson Farms to sponsor the tournament runs through 2026.

That combined with last year’s news of the partnership between the PGA Tour and the Saudi-backed LIV Golf could leave the Sanderson Farms Championship in doubt.

Steve Jent, the executive director of the Sanderson Farms Championship, however, says he is still bullish on the tournament in Jackson, which will be played the week of September 30 this year.

“I like our date with the opportunity to get some great players to come in here,” said Jent, who will be working his 11th Sanderson Farms event. “As far as beyond (2026), those are conversations that we will have to have as we go along, but I feel good about (Wayne-Sanderson Farms’) involvement, but we are also watching to see where the PGA’s relationship with a public investment fund goes and how that shakes out.”

There is some good news for sports fans locally in that Ole Miss football will be on the road that weekend and Mississippi State will have a bye, which should mean the opportunity for bigger crowds this year in Jackson.

“Hey, what I can control is what is right in front of me and that is this year’s tournament, and we feel really good about that,” Jent said. “A lot of this just depends of what the PGA Tour decides it is doing.”

But beyond this year and whether Wayne-Sanderson Farms will continue to be a sponsor and part of the tournament, Jent says he still believes the future is bright.

“I really do feel good about things,” Jent said. “Honestly, I don’t think the layoffs have anything to do with what we are…


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