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Lee Smith named Executive Director of THE PLAYERS Championship

April 20th, 2023 · Leave a Comment

The PGA TOUR recently announced that Lee Smith has been named Executive Director of THE PLAYERS Championship and replaces Jared Rice, who has taken a new role leading business development for the TOUR’s Championship Management portfolio of events.

Smith comes to THE PLAYERS Championship after spending the last five years as General Manager at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he was instrumental in helping the PGA TOUR contest THE NORTHERN TRUST in 2019 and 2021. While overseeing an onsite staff of nearly 150 team members at the club, he secured the LPGA Tour’s Mizuho Americas Open, which will debut at Liberty National in June. Since 2008, Smith has been a key member of the TPC Network, serving as Head Golf Professional at TPC Sugarloaf outside Atlanta; General Manager of TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas; and Regional Director of Operations for TPC Networks, a role he held concurrently with his position at Liberty National. He has been a Class A member of the PGA of America for more than 20 years.

Originally from Illinois, Smith received a B.S. degree in Sport Management from Southeast Missouri State University (where he was a four-year letter winner on the men’s golf team) before later attending the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, where he earned a Masters in Sports Law & Business. He will relocate to Florida from New Jersey in the coming months.

Rice, who has served as Executive Director of THE PLAYERS and Senior Vice President, Tournament Revenue for Championship Management since November of 2016, will focus exclusively on the latter in his new role as Senior Vice President, Sales & Market Development for Championship Management. That portfolio of events currently includes the Sentry Tournament of Champions, PLAYERS Championship, FedEx St. Jude Championship, TOUR Championship and the Presidents Cup.

Under his guidance, Rice orchestrated the tournament transition from May back to March in 2019; guided THE PLAYERS through the 2020 cancellation due to Covid-19 and the PGA TOUR’s first event to host fans at scale in 2021; doubled the number of national partners; and furthered the event’s long-standing charitable impact, including a $2 million gift last fall to fund the complete redesign and expansion of the Nemours Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Jacksonville.

THE PLAYERS Championship is set to return to TPC Sawgrass, March 12-17, 2024, as the strongest field in golf competes for the richest purse on the PGA TOUR.

For more information on THE PLAYERS Championship, visit THEPLAYERS.com. Fans are encouraged to follow THE PLAYERS on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for tournament updates.

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