Tour event drops Hope name
For nearly five decades, Bob Hope’s name has been attached to the annual PGA Tour event in the California desert.
Well, thanks for the memories, as the late entertainer might have said.
The January tournament will have a new name, new format, new trophy and a new focus, the tour announced June 30.
Golfweek.com broke the news of the name change late June 29, and commissioner Tim Finchem made the announcement June 30 on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
The Humana Challenge will focus on health and well-being, in line with the tournament’s new title sponsor, the Fortune 100 health insurer in Louisville, Ky. The Bob Hope Trophy will be presented to the winner of a tournament that dates to 1960 and had Hope’s name on it since 1965.
In the spring, the tour and host organization Desert Classic Charities unveiled an eight-year agreement with Humana and the William J. Clinton Foundation.
Sources told Golfweek that the issue of the event’s name has been contentious and a decision was not made until Wednesday, with continual negotiations between Humana, the Clinton Foundation, the Hope and tour staffers.
“Humana, the Clinton Foundation and the PGA Tour will work together to promote health and well-being in order to positively impact people’s behavior and improve their quality of life,” Finchem said. “There will be a number of ways that attendees and viewers can take part in healthy lifestyle practices throughout the week that they can easily adapt to their everyday lives. In addition, we are delighted to have the enthusiastic support of the Hope family. Mr. Hope epitomized a healthy lifestyle, living to be 100. We will continue to honor his legacy and be forever grateful for what he did for golf, this tournament, the PGA Tour and charity.”
• Format: Four rounds, not five, beginning Thursday of tournament week, with the first three rounds played in a pro-am format. The cut will be after 54 holes, to the low 70 and ties. The final round will be for professionals only.
• Field size: 144 professionals, an increase of 16, and 144 amateurs.
• Courses: Down from four to three, with SilverRock out. La Quinta Country Club, PGA West Nicklaus Private and PGA West Palmer Private will continue to be sites.
After the entertainer’s death in 2003, his family agreed to continually support the event with the use of Bob Hope’s name in perpetuity, as long as the event would be operated for the raising and distribution of charitable funds.
“I think everybody is going to be very pleased with the commitment that all parties have to perpetuate the legacy of Bob Hope,” tournament director Larry Thiel told Golfweek, “but it’s an unusual set of circumstances.”
Hope’s daughter Linda thanked Humana, Clinton and Finchem for “ensuring that Bob Hope’s legacy will be preserved.”
“My dad has been such an integral part of golf and charity in the Coachella Valley,” she said, “so our family is pleased that the tournament will continue to tell his remarkable story. I know that Dad would be enthusiastic about the tournament’s new focus on health and well being, but he’d probably add some laughter to the mix — these components, after all, coupled with a passion for golf, were the secrets to his century of a well-lived life.”
Alex Miceli contributed
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