Workspace: Jared Rice, director of sales and marketing, The Players Championship
Jared Rice, The Players Championship director of sales and marketing, helps sell the annual May golf tournament to the business community both locally and afar. He also has been named the top salesperson for the PGA Tour for the second consecutive year. Part of what helps him draw interest are history that surrounds him and the views. Photo by Laura Jane Pittman. Purchase this photo
Jared Rice has been director of sales and marketing for The Players Championship since 2010. He and his team have built sponsorships to include more than 315 accounts that support the tournament. “This is the longest-running golf tournament at any one location,” he says. “It is always exciting to host top CEOs and executives from around the globe at our Tour headquarters. For 51 weeks a year, they have meetings, enjoy the clubhouse, and enjoy the course. And then for the one week of The Players, we host in a completely different way.” Photo by Laura Jane Pittman. Purchase this photo
One of the main hallways inside the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse, and one of the first places Rice brings out-of-town sponsor, showcases the course by bringing to light its “history and magnitude.” Rice points to course designer Pete Dye’s original sketch of the back nine which was scribbled on a restaurant napkin over a chicken dinner. Photo by Laura Jane Pittman. Purchase this photo
Photos and mementos from club history line a hallway inside the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse and help Rice explain the course and event’s origins to visitors, including that landowners Jerome and Paul Fletcher sold the property to the PGA Tour for $1. “This best illustrates the vision of Deane Beman (former PGA Tour commissioner) for developing this area with the Fletcher brothers. In some respects, we are fully developing it now.” Photo by Laura Jane Pittman. Purchase this photo
Vince Lombardi’s “What It Takes To Be Number One” speech is another of Rice’s favorites. “I am service-focused for a couple of reasons: first, I am convinced our product is a great resource to grow or retain a business, and second, service comes naturally if you can keep your promise,” he says. Photo by Laura Jane Pittman. Purchase this photo
Rice uses maps in his office to show areas of the tournament venue. “To see our patrons grow their business, see people having a good time, see fans enjoying communal property are all highly motivating to us,” he says. “And to be able to deliver in all those areas and affect charity in such a significant way is icing on the cake.” Photo by Laura Jane Pittman. Purchase this photo
by Laura Jane Pittman, Contributing Writer
Jared Rice has been director of sales and marketing for The Players Championship since 2010. He was recently named top salesperson for the PGA Tour for 2012, the second consecutive year he has received the honor.
Rice heads a team that has increased The Players corporate "partners" – as the Tour calls its sponsors – to more than 315 accounts that invest in the TPC Sawgrass event hosted in the Tour's backyard. The PGA Tour is based at 100 PGA Tour Blvd. in Ponte Vedra Beach.
Last year, corporate sales topped 2011 figures by nearly 10 percent and $6.5 million in tournament proceeds was donated to Northeast Florida charities.
Rice received a degree in sports management from the University of South Carolina and began his career at Anaheim Sports Inc., a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co. He said his five years with the company was the perfect precursor to his future in the industry.
"It was a unique experience and really helped in my approach to customer service," he said. "I will never forget the ways in which we, as a team, handled negative responses, as well as positive responses for things as simple as a bad batch of popcorn. The philosophy was to always make it right for the guest."
When Rice took the sales and marketing helm at The Players in 2010, he initiated steps that helped grow the tournament's influence in the community at-large.
His department developed a best-practices handbook to help sponsors use the tournament to best leverage business and increase return on investment. It also initiated communications with local hospitality venues and other businesses to help make tournament planning a turnkey operation.
Rice also implemented a "deep needs" analysis to determine a direction for tournament aspects.
"We ask all our partners, 'What do we do well?' and also 'What do we not deliver on?'" said Rice. "In many cases, small things have made a big difference."
The Players' improvements include the number of public spaces and venues.
In addition, this year also will have two large, permanent restrooms intended to increase comfort for all spectators.
"There is no other sport like the game of golf, where you can be entertained and engage with it at the same time, watching the best golfers walk right by you and following your favorite players," said Rice.
He compares the TPC Sawgrass facilities to Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park, to be used and enjoyed by the community
"This course was planned for hosting and built for the spectator," he said. "That is top in my mind always."