PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The PGA TOUR tournament in La Quinta, Calif. has a new name, a new format, a new trophy, and most important, an innovative new focus on health and well-being. The "Humana Challenge" has been announced as the new name of the event formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic, and will feature several changes to the format beginning in 2012.
Thursday's announcement follows that of April 14, when the PGA TOUR and host organization Desert Classic Charities (DCC) unveiled an eight-year agreement with new title sponsor Humana and the William J. Clinton Foundation. While taking a new focus on healthy lifestyle practices, the Humana Challenge will honor and celebrate the legacy of Bob Hope and his longtime role as tournament host, including the awarding of a newly created Bob Hope Trophy to the winner. Next year's tournament will be the week of January 16-22 with live and replay tournament coverage on Golf Channel.
"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," said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. "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."
The name is changing to reflect the tournament's new strategic direction. The tournament week is designed to bring the idea of "participatory wellness" to life for people of all ages and will feature a first-ever national conference focused on health and well-being on Tuesday, highlighted by a keynote address from President William J. Clinton.
"The Humana Challenge is conceived as a new kind of experience -- a premier PGA TOUR event that simultaneously immerses players, spectators and viewers in a variety of innovative and fun events around the theme of lifelong well-being," said Mike McCallister, Humana's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "The Tuesday conference and the activities surrounding the golf tournament will play a key role in addressing challenges we all face as we strive to live healthier lives."
The tournament will "challenge" -- hence the name -- participating TOUR pros, amateur golfers, celebrities, volunteers, sponsor guests, spectators and the millions of television viewers around the country to interact with Humana, the Clinton Foundation, the PGA TOUR, and Desert Classic Charities during a week-long celebration of world-class golf, healthy lifestyle options, and fitness-oriented activities.
"This week, CGI America will bring together leaders from business, nonprofits, and government to develop new ideas for creating jobs in the U.S.," President Clinton said. "CGI members have improved the lives of more than 300 million people around the world. We form partnerships to take action on issues that matter most, which is why I am pleased that the Clinton Foundation, the PGA TOUR, and Humana are working together to promote healthy lifestyles. The tournament builds on my personal love for golf, preserving the Bob Hope Classic legacy, and the Clinton Foundation's commitment to healthy choices."
Besides the name change and new strategic direction, the tournament also will feature several changes to the professional and amateur format. The changes include:
A four-day tournament, beginning Thursday of tournament week, with the first three rounds played in a pro-am format.
The pro-am teams will consist of one professional and one amateur playing in groups of four.
For each day of the three round pro-am competition, the professional will have a different amateur partner. Amateurs will compete in daily competitions as well as an overall, three day competition
Round 4 will be professionals only with a normal 70 + ties cut.
The field size for the event will be 144 professionals, an increase of 16 professional spots from the previous format, and 144 amateurs.
The number of courses being used in the rotation is being reduced from four to three: La Quinta Country Club, a tournament course since 1965, PGA WEST Nicklaus Private and PGA WEST Palmer Private. PGA WEST has been in the rotation since 1986. Though the city-owned SilverRock Resort course will no longer be utilized, the event will continue its close partnership with the City of La Quinta as it provides support services and joint-marketing efforts for the event.
"We believe these format changes align with the new strategic direction of the tournament and the weeklong experience that is being developed with Humana and the Clinton Foundation," Finchem said. "It will be a very special and engaging week that focuses on health and well-being in addition to outstanding golf."
Thanks in large part to Bob Hope becoming involved as tournament host in 1965, the tournament has generated more than $50 million, which literally has funded the construction of the Eisenhower Medical Center and has supported local Coachella Valley charities. Throughout the week, there will be several elements specifically designed to honor the legacy of the event's 52-year history and Hope's longtime involvement. A full listing of these elements will be released at a later date.
"I want to thank Humana, President Clinton and Commissioner Finchem for their commitment to ensuring that Bob Hope's legacy will be preserved throughout the tournament and beyond," said daughter Linda Hope. "My dad has been such an integral part of golf and charity in the Coachella Valley 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."
"We're extremely excited about the new direction of the tournament and our relationship with Humana and the Clinton Foundation. The focus on health and well-being ties in perfectly with our longstanding support of the Eisenhower Medical Center and other charities in the Coachella Valley," said DCC Board Chairman John Foster. "We very much look forward to building on the legacy and impact of Bob Hope and the tournament over the next eight years."