'The Players will become the forefront of the PGA Tour season'May 10, 2018 Golf News
Jared Rice has made The Players Championship the "ultimate fan experience". But what's next? Jack Martin went to find out
You also added Nickelodeon to the on-site Kid Zone at The Players. Is that one example of how you are trying to attract more diverse and younger audiences?
We are trying to attract younger audiences and the introduction of Nickelodeon to our Kid Zone was a great example of this. We make sure to build the fan experience not only for core golf fans and golfers, but sports enthusiasts, millennials, who just want to socialize and celebrate the regions showcase event and families.
Children 18 and under are admitted free. There are not many tournaments of this magnitude with such generosity. But we have to give them a reason to come to The Players and Nickelodeon is something they are interested in and will be attracted by.
The course itself at TPC Sawgrass has seen huge renovation work in recent years. How have these improvements been received by fans and players alike?
In 2017, the course went through significant renovation. The largest single infrastructure project since our inception. And we’ve even made some tweaks to the throughways and gathering areas which will be debuted in 2018.
The changes have been very well received. It’s part of our DNA to consult players on our plans and they’ve been supportive. While, not only fans on site, but on digital mediums and television, saw more drama early in the telecast.
Also, the redesigned sixth and seventh holes were praised for their beauty, while the changes to the 12th hole, which we have enhanced again this year by extending the bunker on the left-hand side, provided more drama on the back nine.
This speaks for our evolution, right down to the performance of a golf course. We’ve already started planning for the 2019 tournament.
From 2019, The Players Championship will move from May to March in the golfing calendar. What do you make of the schedule change and how will it impact the tournament?
It will affect the tournament very positively. The players have been very supportive. It allows the The Players to be the first event of significance on the calendar and be at the forefront of the PGA Tour’s season.
We are hugely happy with it as are our commercial partners, because it will help us to capitalise on ‘climate dollars’, with the rest of America and the UK dealing with some very cold temperatures in March. Overall, it’s a good move.