Simmons Bank Media Day

Predators mascot Gnash, left, poses while Tennessee Golf Association media relations director Darren Reese coordinates a Zoom call with Vanderbilt product and PGA Tour pro Brandt Snedeker on Tuesday at the Simmons Bank Open media day in Franklin. 

FRANKLIN — Brandt Snedeker likes to say he’s a Nashvillian first and foremost. But he has business in San Antonio this week.

His PGA schedule this year hinges in part on how well he performs at the Valero Texas Open. He’s scheduled to tee off Thursday morning.

“My own NCAA Tournament play-in game, if you will, since it’s March Madness (time)” Snedeker said.

So, instead of shaking hands at the Simmons Bank Open media day Tuesday he spoke via Zoom about his hopes for the Korn Ferry Tour’s Nashville tournament stop.

The first goal is for it to become the premiere event on the Korn Ferry Tour, which allows players to compete for all 50 available PGA Tour cards.

Organizers got a boost last week when they were informed by the PGA they could host fans for the May 6-9 event at The Grove. The PGA bases decisions about fan attendance on COVID-19 numbers and local government guidelines in respective communities.

The green light meant the 2021 Simmons Bank Open could finally start selling tickets. The tournament has undergone a postponement due to the pandemic, a venue change and changes in management all in the last year.

The ticket news was cause for celebration.

“It was awesome. Put the tickets on there, let’s go,” Tennessee Golf Foundation president Whit Turnbow said. “We’re sold out of hospitality, we’re sold out of pro-am teams.

“We don’t count on tickets for tons of revenue, but we count on them because we want people to see (the tournament). We want people to come experience it.”

Turnbow estimates attendance will be capped at “around a couple thousand a day,” though that’s subject to change. But even that number can help set the stage for future Simmons Bank Opens, he believes.

The tournament will begin incorporating some Nashville culture, like music and hot chicken vendors, in order to prepare for the 2022 event.

“When we can really blow it out,” Turnbow said.

Snedeker, a Nashville resident and PGA Tour pro who played at Montgomery Bell Academy and Vanderbilt, is aligned with organizers in believing the tournament can be a launchpad to regular PGA Tour golf in Nashville. The Nashville Predators announced their partnership with the tournament Tuesday.

Formerly the Nashville Open and held at Nashville Golf and Athletic Club, the Simmons Bank Open found a new home at The Grove in College Grove. The Greg Norman-designed course has a picture-perfect finishing hole: the 581-yard par-5 18th.

The hole can play long during the week but short enough in the finishing rounds to tempt players at a three-shot eagle.

“It’s probably going to come down to that hole in some shape or form,” Snedeker said. “And it’s got a great amphitheater feel to it with the clubhouse behind it, plenty of room for fans to spread out. It’s a gorgeous finish.”

The Snedeker Foundation became the tournament’s official charitable beneficiary in 2017. It supports Middle Tennessee non-profits such as Our Kids, which provides support for sexually abused children, and a junior golf circuit called The Sneds Tour.

Snedeker’s splitting his focus between that, the tournament and his own professional game.

He’s still searching for a top-10 finish this year.

“I’ve got one week to get this thing done to play in the Masters,” Snedeker said. “The single goal is to win a golf tournament.. I’ve been struggling, to be perfectly honest with you. You kind of find out how much you love the game and how much you want to do it when you go through hard times. I’m excited about the challenge and figuring this thing out.”

Tyler Palmateer covers high school sports for Main Street Nashville. A graduate of Oklahoma State University, Palmateer has covered high school and college sports for nearly a decade. Find him on Twitter @tpalmateer83.

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