NASHVILLE – Tuesday was a momentous day for golf in the state of Tennessee.
The PGA TOUR’s Korn Ferry Tour, along with TOUR Vision Promotions, announced during a media event at Topgolf Nashville that Simmons Bank will be the title sponsor of the Tour’s local event for the next eight years.
Previously known as the Nashville Golf Open, the Korn Ferry Tour’s local stop will continue to benefit The Snedeker Foundation. Nashville native and 2012 PGA Tour FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker was in attendance as the press conference, along with his wife Mandy.
The Simmons Bank Open for The Snedeker Foundation is set to be held the week of April 30 through May 3 this year at Nashville Golf & Athletic Club. The sponsorship deal with Simmons Bank runs from 2020-2027.
Korn Ferry Tour president Alex Baldwin was one of the keynote speakers at the event, and expressed her excitement over what the commitment from Simmons Bank means for professional golf in Nashville.
“This is an important market not only for our Tour, but also for the PGA TOUR business,” Baldwin said. “Today’s announcement will allow us to invest in this tournament with a tremendous partner as we look to create one of the premier stops on our schedule.”
“As you know, the PGA Tour has shown a great level of commitment to the state with the World Golf Championship - FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis, the Korn Ferry Tour Knoxville Open, and now the Simmons Bank Open for The Snedeker Foundation here in Nashville. Tournaments on the Korn Ferry Tour are true community events and know that Simmons Bank and its strong industry reputation will help us to continue to develop new relationships in this community while furthering efforts to create a tournament that this city can be proud of and really feel ownership in.”
Baldwin was joined on stage by Brandt Snedeker; George Makris, chairman and CEO of Simmons First National Corporation; and Patrick Nichol, CEO and President of TOUR Vision Promotions. The event was emceed by radio personality Shawn Parr.
This will be the fifth consecutive year that the Korn Ferry Tour (formerly the Web.com Tour) has made a stop in Nashville. The Simmons Bank Open is one of 27 tournaments on the KFT schedule this season. According to the tournament website, 73 percent of all PGA Tour players began their career on the Korn Ferry Tour.
The Nashville tournament has donated more than $175,000 to The Snedeker Foundation and other charitable beneficiaries.
The Snedeker Foundation, founded by Brandt and Mandy, has distributed more than $600,000 to various charities in Middle Tennessee since its inception in 2015. Among the chief beneficiaries is the Tennessee Golf Foundation and specifically the Sneds Tour – a state-wide junior golf tour that bears Snedeker’s name and strives to make golf fun and affordable for any child who wants to play.
Our Kids – which provides expert medical evaluations and crisis counseling services in response to concerns of child sexual abuse, while also working to increase community awareness, education and training about child maltreatment – is another organization that is close to the Snedekers’ hearts.
Makris surprised the Snedekers at Tuesday’s event by presenting them with a $25,000 donation check to go specifically to Our Kids.
"Our goal at the Snedeker Foundation is to better the lives and futures of kids across Middle Tennessee, and today's announcement with Simmons Bank will allow us to strengthen those ongoing efforts,” Snedeker said. “Golf has a tremendous history of giving back, and through this tournament we'll continue to work tirelessly to ensure we leave a lasting impact in our community.”
Makris said the values of the Snedekers and the Korn Ferry Tour are the main reasons he felt comfortable entering his company into a partnership with the golf entities.
“I want to say how proud we are to be associated with the Korn Ferry Tour and The Snedeker Foundation,” Makris started. “For 117 years, Simmons Bank has been helping our customers’ and our communities’ dreams come true, and our motto is ‘dreams realized’. I can’t think of a more appropriate association than the Korn Ferry Tour, which allows professional golfers to reach for their dreams.”
For Simmons Bank, protecting our brand is extremely important. It really is the top asset that we own. We have to be very careful and selective when we choose to partner with organizations to make sure our cultures align, that we get along well and it will be well-received in our market place. The inherited integrity, professionalism and citizenship of professional golf is a perfect fit for what we consider to be our values at Simmons Bank."
Snedeker said having a long-term sponsor like Simmons Bank affords the tournament the opportunity to work toward becoming one of the premier events on the Korn Ferry Tour. But he has even greater aspirations for professional golf in the mid-state area.
"Hopefully, as this thing grows and gets bigger, we can talk about hosting a tour championship here or something like that as a Korn Ferry event,” Snedeker said. “Then maybe grow into something more from that on the PGA Tour.”
“This is giving Nashville every opportunity to show, ‘Hey can you host and support a big golf event?’ We have a sponsorship now. We have stability. Now it’s about we do as fans, as a community, as volunteers, to show that we love golf here and we’re passionate about it. The onus is on us as a community now to take that next step. This is a huge moment for the golf community in town of showing out about what we could possibly do going forward."