United States presidents and golf – a match made throughout history. Add in the most famous man to ever entertain our troops, Bob Hope, and you have a match made in the California desert.
The PGA Tour and the Bob Hope Classic announced today that Humana and the William J. Clinton Foundation have formed an eight-year partnership with the Tour and the Classic beginning in 2012, with Humana becoming title sponsor. Next year’s tournament week will be January 16-22.
The agreement builds on a pledge by both the Clinton Foundation and Humana to promote healthy living and work across sectors to improve the lives of people around the world. A conference of health-industry leaders will be held early in the tournament week. Further details on the partnership, the tournament and the format will be announced later this spring.
“We are excited to announce this collaboration between Humana and the Clinton Foundation in support of this iconic event,” said PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem in a news release. “The tournament will take on an expanded focus of serving as a strategic platform to establish and communicate new initiatives in health and well-being. We are delighted to have the support and commitment of Humana and truly honored to have the Clinton Foundation’s partnership.”
President Clinton will have a prominent role in both the conference and the tournament including key messaging and a presence in the tournament telecast.
Since its introduction in 1960 as the Palm Springs Golf Classic, the tournament has generated more than $50 million for charity and literally funded the construction of the Eisenhower Medical Center, thanks in large part to Bob Hope becoming involved as tournament host in 1965. The Bob Hope Classic traditionally is played the third week of the PGA TOUR season and is the first tournament on the U.S. mainland.
“We have always felt that the Bob Hope Classic is more than just a golf tournament and we could not be more pleased that Humana, the Clinton Foundation and the PGA Tour are enhancing the mission of this event in the spirit of Bob Hope’s legacy of giving back,” said a written statement from John Foster, Chairman of the Bob Hope Classic. “Mr. Hope epitomized a healthy lifestyle, was friend to Presidents and Kings, believed in the good works of this tournament, and would certainly be thrilled with today’s announcement.”
Sponsorship of the tournament expands Humana’s involvement with the PGA Tour. As one of the nation’s largest publicly-traded health benefits companies, Humana has been a marketing partner of the TOUR since 2005 and is the “Official Health Benefits Company of the PGA Tour and Champions Tour.”
“President Clinton and his Foundation have had an enormous impact over the past years on improving lives by transforming ideas into real action,” said Humana Chairman and CEO Michael B. McCallister, in a news release. “We see the partnership with the Clinton Foundation, the PGA TOUR and the Classic as an effective way to showcase the importance and overall benefits of a healthy lifestyle and what needs to be done to improve overall health and well-being for everyone.”
“The PGA Tour has always been a leader in philanthropy,” President Clinton told PGA Tour officials in a news release. “I’m so pleased that my Foundation has committed to working with the Tour and Humana to raise awareness for global health and continue to improve the lives of people around the world. Through the Clinton Global Initiative, members have made nearly 2,000 commitments, which have helped 300 million people in more than 170 countries. My Foundation has helped 4 million people gain access to life-saving HIV/AIDS medications, but there is still more work to be done. By joining with the PGA TOUR and Humana, we can further our efforts to improve global health, strengthen economies, and protect the environment.”
In the entire history of show business, no one traveled so far and so often, to entertain so many as Bob Hope. He often carried a golf club with him on stage while entertaining allied troops during USO tours. He was 100 years old when he passed away on July 27, 2003. In November 2008, the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, FL, of which Hope is a member, honored him with a special exhibit – Shanks for the Memories – which has been extended into this year.
This past January, rookie Jhonattan Vegas, the first PGA TOUR member from Venezuela, outlasted Gary Woodland in a two-hole playoff to capture the Bob Hope Classic title. Past winners in its 51-year history include Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Billy Casper, Johnny Miller, Craig Stadler, Lanny Wadkins, Corey Pavin, Tom Kite, Fred Couples, David Duval (59 in final round) and Phil Mickelson.
President Clinton is no stranger to the tournament or to the PGA Tour and its legacy of giving back. In 1995, he played in the first round of the Bob Hope Classic pro-am, teaming with Presidents George H.W. Bush and Gerald R. Ford, with Scott Hoch the PGA Tour pro. He also served as Honorary Chairman of The Presidents Cup in 2000.