Hard work going into tourney

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 17, 2001

A championship golf tournament doesn’t happen over night. It takes time and hard work – lots of it. Just ask Mark Powell, club manager and PGA pro at Beau Pr\u00E9 Country Club – site of one of the largest golf tournaments held each year in Mississippi.

Well, their hard work has paid off. Beau Pr\u00E9 will host the 2001 Farm Bureau Invitational Friday through Sunday.

For Powell and Beau Pr\u00E9, the hunt for one of Mississippi’s top golf events began more than three years ago – even before the par-72 course was built.

Powell and officials at Belwood Country Club decided to submit a bid for the Farm Bureau in hopes of attracting the tournament to Natchez and the golf course that was to come.

&uot;We submitted our first bid before we opened the course,&uot; Powell said. &uot;We bid again the next year and got it.&uot;

He said the announcement was made at last year’s tournament.

Once the Mississippi PGA and the Beau Pr\u00E9 board of directors approved the tournament after the announcement, Powell and his staff went to work.

From changing the golf course, to coordinating information with Natchez Visitors Center officials and publicity, the preparation wasn’t done over night.

&uot;We talked about how we wanted to set up the course (to make it tougher),&uot; Powell said.

Mowing patterns were changed in the winter, months before the tournament would be held. New range balls were ordered; more carts were added to the fleet; tents were rented and donated for scoring, and an entourage of volunteers had to be found.

&uot;You can’t just cut the grass a week before the tournament,&uot;&160;he said. &uot;It’s a long process.&uot;

Powell said the size of the cart fleet was bumped up to accommodate media, PGA officials and court marshals.

Tournament officials also made a tough decision for this year’s tournament. They selected players based on their handicaps, rather than on a first-come, first-served basis.

More than 150 golfers were turned away last year, Powell said – including many good players. &uot;We want to get the best field possible.&uot;

In the meantime, publicity was just getting started.

Publicity began early this spring,&160;Powell said, with with the preparation for the tournament’s media day at Anandale Golf Club in Jackson. Locals made a strong showing at the event, Powell said, and people left Jackson with a good feeling about the tournament. &uot;It’s been 30 years since Natchez has hosted this tournament,&uot; he said. &uot;I think everyone has a good feeling about the tournament.&uot;