Kemp Swings Into Classic

December 22, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — Brian Kemp knows golf.

In fact, he knows golf so well that he has made it his career. Now the new executive director of the Grand Rapids Jaycees Farmers Charity Classic, Kemp saw his future in sports at an early age.

Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Kemp moved to Bradenton, Fla., and split his time between the family farm in Ohio and Florida’s gulf coast. A University of Florida grad, Kemp’s one love was beach volleyball, and while on a business track in college, he met a guy with a degree in sports administration who was running professional volleyball tournaments across the country.

“When I saw that, I said that is what I want to do,” said Kemp. “So Florida had a program and I got my degree in science and sports administration.”

Part of the sports administration degree involved an internship, which Kemp was able to secure with the PGA Tour. He interned for the Players Championship for five months and was hired shortly after that to begin his career with the PGA Tour. Over time he lived and worked in both Florida and North Carolina, and traveled with tournaments to places like Aruba and Bermuda.

Running what Kemp called the Super Bowl of golf — the Tour Championship — was where he spent most of his time and where he honed his skills of planning, coordinating and leveraging multiple events, until he was promoted to tournament director of the Senior Tour Championship.

After working the event in such locales as Myrtle Beach, Oklahoma City and Florida, Kemp opted to spend some time with his family in Bradenton, where he worked for a period of time and sold corporate sponsorships for professional golf tournaments, until hearing of the Farmers Charity Classic executive director opportunity.

“I found out this opportunity was available and came here to work for the Jaycees,” said Kemp. “This is just a different tournament, but with the same type of duties and the same type of work.”

Kemp will still work with the community and sponsorships by creating the host organization, working with the host site, and raising charity dollars in the community.

He said he is looking forward to getting acquainted with the area, building friendships and relationships as well as catching on to the learning curve associated with any new area or event.

However, it is his experience of moving around a lot and acclimating himself to new situations that makes him a good fit for the executive director position. He has recently hired a new sales manager and said he is lucky to have found himself in the position of leadership of an event that has been so well run for the past 19 years.

While working with the Farmers Charity Classic will be a new experience for Kemp, he said that all PGA Senior Tour sanctioned events have the same operational guidelines, while each is unique depending on the market.

“Inside the ropes it is the same experience. Our professional athletes get the best playing conditions we can offer, on the best golf courses they can play,” said Kemp. “It is outside of the ropes where you have the variability.”

In his position as executive director, Kemp oversees his staff of three, is the day-to-day contact for the title sponsor, Farmers Insurance, serves as the main contact with the host facility, Egypt Valley Country Club, deals with issues with the host course and is the community spokesperson for the organization and tournament.

His job is to bring all these entities together and get them focused in the same direction, often playing the simultaneous roles of juggler, interpreter and sympathizer.

He said he plays similar roles at home, which he shares with his wife of 10 years, Kelly, their 21-month old son, Tucker, and their 11-year-old dog.

Kemp also never misses an opportunity to root for the University of Florida athletic teams, while managing to squeeze in a little time to play many sports, including volleyball and golf.

And after three months on the job, Kemp said that he is finding his groove, so to speak, but looks forward to getting to know the tournament and the area and people of West Michigan.    


Name: Brian Kemp

Organization: Farmer’s Charity Classic

Title: Executive director

Age: 35

Birthplace: Dayton, Ohio

Residence: Kentwood

Biggest Career Break: Running a made-for-TV event for the PGA Tour, and all of the challenges that went into collecting a title sponsorship 10 days before the event.

Community Involvements: Member of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, and looking for other opportunities.

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