What they said: Humana Challenge Media Day

text size
Increase Text Size
Decrease Text Size
December 18, 2012

TOBY ZWIKEL: Good morning. Welcome everyone to our Media Day News Conference. I'm Toby Zwikel, a member of the PR team for the Humana Challenge. Thanks very much for being with us this morning as we look ahead to the 2013 Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation as we seek to build on the success that we had with the 2012 event. We would like to take this opportunity to thank LaQuinta Resort and Club and PGA West for their wonderful hospitality.

We'll be hearing from all the members of our partners this morning and then at the conclusion of our formal remarks we'll have a Q&A session. You'll have the opportunity to ask questions of them. Then we'll have a chance to do some one on one's and after that those who are playing golf will adjourn to the practice range to get ready for your round today. And then after that those that were participating in the golf will come back in for dinner at the conclusion of the round and award ceremony.

I would like to take this time to introduce the members of our panel, starting from your left to right, we have our Desert Classic Charities Chairman of the Board and President of the Humana Challenge, John Foster. And next to John is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing for Humana, Tom Noland. Actually it's corporate communications. Excuse me. And then with the Clinton Foundation, Valerie Alexander, Valerie's the Director of Marketing and Communications. With the PGA TOUR, Rick Clarson is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing, Brand Marketing with the PGA TOUR. And our new Executive Director and CEO of the Humana Challenge Bob Marra. And our 2012 Humana Challenge champion, Mark Wilson. Our first speaker is going to be John Foster. Applause for Mark Wilson, of course.

(Applause.)

TOBY ZWIKEL: It's a tremendous achievement last year, Mark. Congratulations. And our first speaker is going to be John Foster and a little before 10 o'clock you may see John leaving, he has multiple commitments today, so he's going to have to leave us at that time. But John, why don't you go ahead and lead off for us.

JOHN FOSTER: Well, good morning and I'm glad everybody could come. We appreciate it. I want to second the thanks to PGA West, Todd Keefer is here, I don't see Gary Sims, is Gary here? But this is part of the community effort and we appreciate them putting this on for us. It's a nice touch.

Well, time flies, 54 years this community has had PGA TOUR golf. Which is pretty amazing especially when there were probably only 75,000 people in this whole region when they first started in 1959. So a lot of things have changed. We keep moving. And we have kind of evolved from the Bob Hope Classic to the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. But we're still embracing and celebrating the memory of Bob Hope. And I think all partners here, that was foremost in our mind when we started, got together. What do you call this? Well, one of the things that everybody said we do not want to forget the memory of Bob Hope and what he did for this community, what he did for this tournament, and what he did for the United States. He was an amazing man.

You will still find Hope Square, you'll still find the Bob Hope Club. We got a lot of memories here. And our 2012 champion possesses the Bob Hope Memorial Trophy. Those are all things that we are proud of. Something else that kind of goes along with that and is apropos this year is we have Travis Hill from the World Golf Hall of Fame and they have brought out to the air museum, starting next week, I believe, next Wednesday, for four months, I believe, you're going to have the Bob Hope, I am an American or the celebration of America in Bob Hope. So I encourage everyone to go out and see this out at the museum. It's a wonderful tribute to Bob Hope and the four months that's going to be, I hope everybody in this community is able to get out there and do it.

I tell you, after a period of not so impressive professional fields, we're really proud of our 2012 field. If you don't count the Major, we were the sixth best field on the PGA TOUR. That's a big change and it probably has a lot to do with the changing of a number of things, but we believe that the 2013 tournament is going to be better, we're going to have to work hard to be better, but I really think we have a chance to and all of us are dedicated, you've got guys who have these funny little blazers on that says Humana Challenge. They're directors who work and put this thing on. It's important work and we have got our work cut out for us this year and these guys are really up to the challenge.

2012 was obviously a game changer. Better said, our partnership with the Humana, the Clinton Foundation, PGA TOUR, changed everything. We had the format change, the number of days we play, but the biggest change was the message. And that was coined by Mike McCallister, the CEO of Humana, and when we first met he said, I look at this as a week of health and wellness with a side of golf. And he was very serious about that and the messaging that comes from this tournament is probably different than you'll see in any other TOUR event.

And so we have got Rick Clarson here who will kind of expound upon the whole TOUR focus and how we're kind of the launching board for that focus. So he'll go over some of that in a little bit.

To top off 2012, we received an amazing award. We were named Sports Event of the Year by the Sports Business Journal and the Sports Business Daily. Commissioner Finchem accepted the award in New York, which included other events that we were competing with, such as the Super Bowl, NBA Finals and a host of others. Fairly impressive company.

I think it took an awful lot of folks to make that happen. They were part of this team and you'll see them all up here, there are a lot of people in the background that have worked very hard from Humana. They have had support all year round, the PGA TOUR has a main focus on this tournament and so we know what the Clinton Foundation brings, they bring a very charismatic former President and a lot of energy. And we have got some great supporters there and they're working very hard. So this is a team effort to get this thing done and it's a three ring circus, so as you know, it's not easy to put together.

So with that I would like to pass it back to Toby and Toby, you're going to go through and have a little reminiscence of what we did in 2012?

TOBY ZWIKEL: Okay. I guess we're playing the video at this point.

(Video played.)

TOBY ZWIKEL: Now to share some words about Humana, Tom Noland.

TOM NOLAND: Thank you, Toby, and thank you, John, and that video is so inspiring, anybody who was involved in last year's tournament and I look around the room and I know that nearly everyone in this room was, knows that it had such a feeling of life to it. I think that video does a good job of bringing it across and as a spokesperson for Humana our job is to do it even better this year. So that will be the focus of my remarks.

I appreciate you all coming out here today for Media Day. We're excited to be here in the Coachella Valley with our partners to continue building on last year's success.

At its core this tournament is challenging everyone, and that's really the reason for its name, attendees, players, viewers, to better understand their roles and their own well being and to take steps to improve and maintain their health. People attending tournament week activities, which of course go well beyond the four days of championship golf or watching at home on TV will see that Humana is deeply committed to bringing this vision to life at the Humana Challenge and helping people live life fully.

As many of you know, last year along with our partners the Desert Classic Charities, the Clinton Foundation, and the PGA TOUR, we did succeed, as the video pointed out in reinvigorating this long standing tournament.

We saw an improvement in the player field, as John pointed out, attendance was up, and so was TV viewership. We also established a strong connection among our organizations missions and we brought these goals to the Tournament and to the entire Coachella Valley.

And yet when you know of the greatest testaments to the tournament's success is reflected in the conversations surrounding our shared mission as well as in the increase in funds that the Desert Classic Charities was able to distribute as a result of all the Tournament activities. And for that I think all of us in this room deserve around of applause.

(Applause.)

The challenge as you all know is more than just a week of well being with a side of golf, and it was Mike McCallister who came up with that phrase, it's a catalyst to make sustainable change across people's lives both here in the valley and throughout the nation.

Today we're thrilled to talk about what we have been able to work on since last January and to discuss some of the initiatives for the 2013 Challenge. Last year through the challenge and related activities, community members and tournament attendees walked almost 100 million steps as measured by the Humana pedometers through the Humana Walk It program. Tracking steps through pedometers distributed through Humana people were able to see the impact of walking on their well being every day. And as a result of the community's inspired participation, we were pleased for the Humana Foundation to be able to make significant contribution, beyond the contribution that Humana made as tournament sponsor, to many charitable organizations in the Coachella Valley, showing that the tournament truly has a year round affect.

Using the Humana Foundation's Walk It program donations from last year we're building two more multi generational play grounds. You all remember that on the Saturday prior to tournament week we built the first one of these play grounds in Indio in the valley. We're building two more this year, one of them was built just this past Saturday and I know a number of you here were actually there at the build. Raise your hand. Come on, Lorena, I know you were. It was great event, had great news coverage, some of which aired on TV this morning. And the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley were the particular and will be the particular beneficiaries that have effort.

The one that we built this past Saturday was at Las Cosas and we look forward to constructing the other one on the 12th of January in Desert Hot Springs.

These unique play grounds combine common playground equipment with senior fitness stations and walking paths for a comprehensive multi generational activity experience.

They also provide a safe, engaging place for people to exercise and gather with their families.

And so now I'm going to ask and this is the last one and it's also short the video to be shown about this past Saturday's KaBOOM playground build.

(Video played.)

TOM NOLAND: Actually I think that poster is around here in the room somewhere, isn't it? That thank you poster? You can take a look at it.

We're supporting a variety of other events this year leading up to tournament week that offer healthy activities that we hope will encourage long lasting community change.

For example, we will again host the Humana Well Being Walk followed by the Humana Healthy Fun Fair on Saturday the 12th. And the Humana Day at the Certified Farmers Market on Sunday, January 13th, to bring residents of La Quinta together in the name of health.

Events at the fun fair will educate the community on how making small changes in their daily lives can have a significant impact on their health.

In addition, the farmers market will feature locally grown and sustainable produce, along with music and various culinary entertainment.

Humana will also provide healthy activities and a well being focus for people who come to PGA West for tournament week. The Humana Well Being Tour, those of you last here year remember this was the big 18 wheeler right out there at Hope Square, will be back again. It was launched last year and then it was taken around the country to 15 different events, in fact many of them were PGA TOUR events including the Shell Houston Open and the HP Byron Nelson.

And just last month the Well Being TOUR made a stop at PGA TOUR headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. So we'll be doing that again this year. Anybody who sampled the TOUR last year remembers two things about it that I think were really cool they got the longest lines for sure, first was the exercise bike you remember what you got when you pedaled? Yeah. What was it? A smoothie. All right. Fruit smoothie. No doubt you did. You wouldn't be able to say that if you didn't. Healthy to the max and lots of fun.

And secondly, you remember the biometric screening stations. They will be back again where, not only do you get your screenings given to you, but then you get then a printout which is a personalized, customized set of recommendations for how improvements in lifestyle, diet, and exercise can improve your well being. So once again that's back.

Walk It is back, you know that all of you have pedometers this morning. By the way, those of you who stick around for the fun dinner after golf today, there will be awards for the most steps and I'm not going to make any sort of comparison between the most steps and the quality of the golf you play, I'll leave you to draw whatever conclusion you might want to about that. But we'll have a good time at dinner tonight and again we'll have pedometers this year.

As we look forward to this year's event, we also want to insure that we're remembering the strong foundation of this great tournament event. Known as the Bob Hope classic for more than 40 years, the Tournament has a rich history in improving the lives of thousands of people who live here in the Coachella Valley and for its commitment to the military, both of which Bob Hope embodied.

Each year we will continue to strive to honor Bob Hope, a Hollywood legend, who supported the men and women of our armed forces with his humor, positive attitude, and his bravery in going around the world in war zones to encourage our troops. That's why ever every year the winner of the Humana Challenge, Mark Wilson of course being the first and maybe the second, what do you say, Mark? All right. Receives the Bob Hope Trophy. You all remember that from last year, we will again award it this year. And Bob Hope Square serves as the central hub throughout the week for health and well being activities. And new in 2013 Humana will also host a Military Appreciation Day on Saturday, January 19th, which will feature a ceremony to honor members of the armed forces and their families. There will be more to come on that as we get closer to January. Together with the DCC we're offering complimentary tournament admission tickets for all active duty reserve and military retirees, along with their dependents. And also new this year, all military veterans will have access to free admission to the Humana Challenge, with more details about this to come. Complimentary transportation from military installations also will be available.

So, to wrap up, we are thrilled to be hosting the Humana Challenge and we look forward to many more years of creating new exciting ways to help engage the community and spectators in improving their own health and well being. Thanks to all of you for joining us on this exciting journey. Please enjoy the rest of the day.

(Applause.)

TOBY ZWIKEL: Thanks very much, Tom. Appreciate it. And now to tell us about the William J. Clinton Foundation participation in the event, Valerie Alexander.

VALERIE ALEXANDER: Thank you, Toby and good morning, everyone. I'm happy to be back here at PGA West on behalf of President Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, to speak a little bit about last year's success, but also to share with you some of the accomplishments and developments from our last time here together a year ago. And to touch on some of our plans moving forward.

But first I want to say that I could not be in better company. I don't know if it's obvious, but this is much more than a partnership and a collaboration, we are friends, we work very hard to try and make this tournament the best tournament it can be and I am so thankful to Tom and to John and Bob and Ric and the extended Humana Challenge family for everything that you do to make this a success.

I am personally amazed by what we have been able to accomplish over the course of the last year. I want to give special thanks to Mark Wilson, our champion, a fellow Chicagoan. Not only for what he does on the course, but what his and what he and his wife Amy do off the course.

We had a chance to visit last night and it's just amazing to hear what they do as a couple to support so many important causes, but then to hear his perspective on the Tournament, we are all working on health and well being and to hear a player's perspective was exceptionally fun for me and I hope he'll share some of that with us all later on.

You've heard a little bit about the Tournament and what it's accomplished and so let me simply reiterate that President Clinton and the Clinton Foundation could not be more energized than we are today. And we are deeply committed to making this a successful tournament and to continue on the success that we built last year.

And with that, before I continue, I would like to share a video message from President Clinton.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Welcome to Humana Challenge Media Day. This is the second year that Humana and the PGA TOUR and my foundation are teaming up to promote health and wellness and to inspire everyone, from players to spectators to volunteers, to do more to improve the lives of others and their own lives.

I'm very glad that last year's inaugural tournament raised and distributed more than two million dollars in donations to Coachella Valley charities. And I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do in 2013. This is also the second year for my foundation's Health Matters Conference, which convenes national leaders to discuss ways through which individuals, communities and corporations can make meaningful contributions to the health of others. At this year's conference, guests will once again have the opportunity to hear from leading health and well being advocates and to discuss effective solutions for improving individual health.

We'll also highlight pledges from national organizations and corporations that already are inspiring healthy changes and we'll announce some new pledges being made this year. So thanks again for accepting our challenge to live healthier and to help others to do the same. I look forward to seeing you in January.

VALERIE ALEXANDER: So as you just heard, President Clinton is not only looking forward to January, but has a deep sense of pride that this foundation is a part of the tournament, which has continued to honor the legacy as John mentioned of Bob Hope that started here over 40 years ago.

The Bob Hope Classic was a golf tournament that was not only spectacular in its competition, but also remarkable in what it did to support local charities. And we remain committed to continuing with this legacy while introducing new ideas and new partners and a new focus on health and wellness.

The President, as many of you know, has always believed that we can do more together when we work together. And partnerships have been key to the Clinton Foundation's success over the past 11 years. And it is encouraged everybody that we work with to have serious impact. This particular collaboration with Human and the PGA TOUR, the DCC, players, the community, has helped us reach more people and innovate new thinking for engaging in healthier living. We met so many people last year who were energized by the Tournament's new focus and who had committed to make healthy changes in are their own lives, in their own communities and in their places of work.

So we look forward to January and hope that we can maintain the momentum and inspire even more people to take action to change both their lives and the lives of others.

As President Clinton mentioned, in the video, on Tuesday, the Clinton Foundation will hold the second Health Matters Activating Wellness in Every Generation Conference, which will again kick off tournament week and convene more than 400 stakeholders in the worlds of health care, public policy, business, education, and sports, to identify strategies for promoting and improving individual health and well being and to catalyze action. This year the conference will focus on a variety of issues including health care transformation, employer health, access to healthy lifestyles, and prescription drug abuse prevention.

I am pleased to announce that Tenet Health Care Corporation will remain our presenting sponsor and we are thrilled to be working closely with two of Tenet's local hospitals, Desert Regional Medical Center and JFK Hospital to make this year's conference a success.

Prior to the conference we will announce our full slate of speakers and panel participants, but just as an example, the PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem and CEO Mike McCallister will be joined by entertainer and philanthropist Barbra Streisand, who will speak about her work with women's heart health. The Foundation will continue its worked around healthy lifestyles through out tournament week and we hope that you will join us at our exhibit in Bob Hope Square for a series of daily fitness and healthy cooking demonstrations and host of other activities. We'll also offer community workouts throughout Coachella Valley during tournament week. And Jilian Michaels, like last year, will return to lead the morning workout on conference day.

Last year's conference had 450 participants, but that paled in comparison to the reach and depth we had beyond the valley. Over 17,000 people followed the conference via our web cast and close to 300,000 engaged on social media. The success of our digital platform is promising, because it really underscores what we're trying to do, which is to help individuals make healthy changes and to show them why health matters.

This year we will provide even more ways to stay engaged in the discussion. The conference was extremely successful. And the interest that President Clinton received to expand the program outside of the January conference was significant.

So as many of you know, last month President Clinton announced his new initiative, his newest initiative at the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Health Matters Initiative. A year round national program that is built on the same action oriented principles as the conference, but is designed like our other global programs to drive rapid and large scale systemic change. The Clinton Health Matters Initiative will work to improve the health and well being of people across the United States by developing and implementing a variety of evidence based individual systems and investment strategies with the goals of ultimately reducing the prevalence of preventable diseases, reducing health care costs associated with these diseases and improving the quality of life for people across America.

The initiative will work at the individual, community and national level to improve individual wellness, close gaps in unequal access to healthy lifestyles, and change the systems and places that affect individual health. The conference here in Coachella Valley will remain the initiative's anchor annual event, showcasing the solutions that are possible and that are working and providing a blueprint that others can follow as they develop their own healthy changes.

The initiative builds on the Foundation's philosophy to address some of the world's most pressing challenges, including global health climate change and economic inequality. And we do this all over the world, in Africa and Latin America, the United States, and in 180 countries where we have projects on the ground.

Our goal is to give individuals the opportunity to transform their lives and to take control of their own futures. And we do this by bringing people together. Just like we have done with this tournament.

It's why we are so thrilled to be a part of it and why we're hopeful together we can inspire people of all ages to live better.

Bob Hope famously said, "If you watch a game it's fun, if you play it, it's recreation, if you work at it, it's golf." He's talking about the sport, but I think that can also apply to what we're trying to do here through partnership together, with the players and with our partners and with the community, and why this tournament is so very special.

We know that meaningful change requires persistence, commitment, and responsibility, and of course, hard work. And in this case, it's a testament to the power of our collective mission that we have been able to inspire so many people to work to build a healthier future. And why through this unique partnership we're all working to make this the best tournament it can be for everyone.

And I think we're off to a great start. Late last night I learned from my colleague Hannah, that a true music icon, Tony Bennett, has accepted President Clinton's invitation to perform at the tournament's opening night event on Wednesday. I'm sure yes, that's good.

(Applause.)

I am sure I speak for everyone here when I say having a legend like Tony Bennett as part of this event has set the stage for extraordinary things to come, not only next month when we reconvene here in January, but for this tournament and the years ahead. So thank you Humana, the PGA TOUR, the DCC, Mark, for everybody's partnership, I know I speak on behalf of President Clinton and the whole Clinton Foundation family when I say we are anxious to see you in January and we look forward to a successful and an exceptional tournament week. Thank you.

TOBY ZWIKEL: Thank you, Valerie. And to provide some perspective from the PGA TOUR, Ric Clarson.

RIC CLARSON: Thank you, Toby. All right. How many of you have already worked out today? And how many of you have it scheduled? Come on, we're going to walk the walk if we're going to do this. Now everybody in this room. I'm trying to get to the gym at five. All right. Every day now.

About 12, 15 years ago we launched an advertising campaign called, These Guys Are Good. And it's true. Just look no further than Mark Wilson. And then it was we approached the milestone of reaching one billion dollars in charitable giving we launched a campaign called Giving Back At the Heart of the PGA TOUR. And it is. If you look at the works that this tournament does every PGA TOUR tournament does, it is at our heart. But we wanted to be more inclusive and several years ago we launched our platform, Together Anything's Possible.

And that is very true. The legacy of Bob Hope, the leadership and knowledge of President Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, the expertise and activation of human how they're trying to transform health care, the experience and guidance of Desert Classic Charities, our host organization, and the stewardship and the resources of the PGA TOUR, the players, our partners like Golf Channel, NBC, Universal, we you can see clearly why, together, anything is possible. What's exciting to myself personally and the PGA TOUR is how a one week event is now starting to become a movement.

Earlier the announcement, I guess probably a month or so ago the formal announcement of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, their Executive Director is with us in the back, Cindy. They're serious about this and the PGA TOUR's serious about supporting this effort.

98 percent of all PGA TOUR employees have taken the Humana Health Risk Assessment Test. And we know for a fact we are saving in health care costs as a group at the PGA TOUR.

I personally routed probably a dozen different walking routes around our campuses. Just last week I had a 20 minute meeting and we did the one mile route while we discussed it and I have to tell you, I can't wait to do more of those. Very invigorating.

We have healthy lunch items that we're generating for our employees out of the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse. We're starting yoga and Pilates classes, we're redoing our fitness center in our clubhouse. So what we're doing internally is a byproduct of the motivation that we have from this event.

Across the PGA TOUR next year we're going to partner with Humana at several of the events where they're activating and we want to take this blueprint and start to overlay it at other PGA TOUR events. The beauty of it is, it doesn't cost the tournament's anything. In fact, it can even be a revenue source for them. We encourage tournaments to start with an on course or in their community 5K walk or run. We're going to calibrate the course maps and pairing sheets so you know how far it is if you walk the front nine, the back nine, or the 18 holes. We're going to do some more healthy concession items. I got a call from a gentleman at PETA and so you get your cheese burger, but perhaps you can get a veggie burger as well. And we want to introduce that to customers across the PGA TOUR.

And of course with Humana providing pedometers at the events where they're activating, we're also going to supply editorial in support of the benefits of an active life style. Humana, their program, Walk It, is very apropos and I love the thematic of Walk Like a Pro. The average golfer goes about five miles around when they walk. Mark, you think you play 25 events last year, about average for a PGA TOUR player, so if you count, this doesn't even count the practice rounds and the pro am, but the average golfer during the course of the year on the PGA TOUR, will walk from New York to Charlotte. Or will walk across the entire state of Texas. 650 miles approximately. Then you add in practice rounds, you add in exhibitions, you add in these guys are tired.

(Laughter.)

One year Vijay Singh, when he had that banner year back I think in 2008, we tracked him and extrapolated and he walked over a thousand miles. So walking is at the core of our sport. So we collectively hope that this movement motivates people, motivates you in this room, if you haven't planned on it, to get your workout in today and tomorrow, but individuals companies, organizations, that's who the Clinton Foundation is trying to impact.

President Clinton's serious about this. He was just down at our Birdies For the Brave event in Ponte Vedra in support of the military, but he's serious about this movement as he is all of his endeavors. Mike McCallister's serious about it. Tim Finchem's serious about it. I know the Tournament's serious about it. So we can make a difference. We can inspire, we can cause change, we're already starting to do that, because we know that together anything's possible. Thank you.

(Applause.)

TOBY ZWIKEL: Thank you, Ric. Bob Marra's going to share some information about the tournament.

BOB MARRA: Thank you, Toby. Before I get into some of the details, I just want to say that I'm really proud and honored to be in this position. When I first visited the Coachella Valley the very first day I literally drove down the road and I think I kissed the ground of PGA West. I had to come see it. I know, crazy, Mark. And to be here and working at PGA West as what I do for a living, it's just a dream come true and so I'm honored by our partners and, wow, These Guys Are Good is something that I was going to say about our partner group.

Just being involved in it from the board level before now being at the staff level to see how things happen and all of this that has progressed is just absolutely amazing. So I'm thankful to be on such a great team.

Speaking of a great partner, the City of La Quinta, is a great partner to us and I thank them for being an active supporting partner of our success and all four rounds of the tournament will be completely in La Quinta for the fourth year in a row here, so thanks again to La Quinta.

A little note on the purse. The purse will be the same as last year, 5.6 million dollars. 1,008,000 for the winner. That's a pretty good number, isn't it, Mark.

MARK WILSON: My in laws actually have the check in their garage, so. The fake check. I actually cashed the real one.

BOB MARRA: I figured that. So it's a great number and we're happy to hand it out again this year. 156 players in the field this year, compared to 144, which is typical. There's a shortened PGA TOUR seasoned this year, so we'll have 156 and we're happy to welcome all of the players here.

So I'll just go through a variety of things we got going on with the tournament this year. One thing that we introduce that had we're excited about is the theme days for this year. The watch word that I've heard with the Clinton Foundation and the Humana, what they do is activate. Activation. Get people involved. Don't just put up a sign and hope for the best. Get them activated. So one great way to activate sponsors at a PGA TOUR event is to engage in theme days where you try to get a group of people to really focus on coming out.

So this year we have got four of them and we have got sponsors for all of them. And we're excited about that. On Thursday, January 17th we'll have Seniors Day. This sponsorship deal is actually not a hundred percent signed, but we got a commitment from a pharmaceutical company, international organization, that we all know of, and we're excited about that.

On Friday, it will be KMIR TV 6, Go Red for Women Day. And so we're focusing on the ladies on that Friday. Encouraging everyone to wear red, buy something red at a discounted price at the merchandise facility and many more things that will be unfolding.

Humana Military Day is Saturday and, boy, this is really shaping up well with our retired military that's here in the Valley and all of the bases that are within a short drive, our staff is really working hard to partner with Humana to do a lot of great things. We'll have a lot of exciting activities to announce as we go forward and some that Tom Noland's already mentioned.

And then on Sunday we have Kids Day. Sponsored by Barbara Sinatra Children's Center. So we'll go do a lot of great things. All these have a lot of details I won't go into now in terms of the way we'll be activating, fun things to do and music involved, shows involved in Bob Hope Square tied in with those theme days and something for everyone.

Let me talk about the pro am events, because this really is an incredible portfolio of pro am events that we have at this tournament. Not only do we have one of the very premier three day pro ams inside the ropes of anywhere on the PGA TOUR, the Humana Challenge Pro am, but we also have two other one day pro ams this year. We introduced them last year, this will be the second annual Couples Challenge, which will be on Monday, January 14th. That was really well received last year and we're looking forward to seeing who has bragging rights among the couples out here in the country clubs. And there's, actually, there's a couple from PGA West who won last year and they're kind of bragging a little bit about their victory and so they're challenging others to come and try to take the trophy from them. And so that's going to be great day.

Wednesday, again honoring Bob Hope, it's the Bob Hope Legacy Pro Am. This is a great one. Just like the Couples Challenge, each team will play with a PGA TOUR professional. Last year and this year as well we have Scott McCarron helping us to be out there and to recruit players from the tournament to play. I was in it last year and I can visualize walking down the line, I was in hole number 18 on the shotgun, so I was just knocked out by the quality of the players that we had in the field. So everyone's going to be really happy as being a part of that.

And with all of those pro am events we throw in the whole week so they get all the opportunities to participate with the Clinton Foundation's party on Wednesday, with the whole set of things that we have going on, including upgraded Champions Lounge seating at the 18th hole. Lots of things for people, it a great package, a great gift package, so we feel like we're at the top of the heap when it comes to the pro ams on the PGA TOUR.

And so at the Couples Challenge will be at the Nicklaus Private Course and the Bob Hope Legacy will be at the Palmer Private, just the day right before we're going to have the golf tournament. So a cool opportunity for people to be inside the ropes, many opportunities.

Celebrities. This year we're going to announce all the celebrities at one time. So that will be coming in the near future. We'll tell you more when we have the full field lined up.

Early player commitments. This is the time when PGA TOUR players are kind of finishing up and this year is end is like it was a really long end of the season. We had a lot of events all the way up to last week's World Challenge that Tiger Woods puts on over in Thousand Oaks and so the players are just starting to sharpen their pencils and look at what they're going to do forthcoming year.

We do have some notable commitments, beyond the press release that you probably received about our returning champion, Mark Wilson will be out here with us going again for the Bob Hope trophy and the $1,008,000 again. But one that we're really proud of to announce is that Phil Mickelson has committed to play in our tournament in 2013. We're excited about it. He's a two time winner here, he's also the top money winner in the history of our tournament and he's Phil Mickelson. And he's great with the fans and we're just very pleased to have him out here with us again.

And we have Brandt Snedeker whose made an early commitment. No. 9 in the world, Brandt was the FedExCup winner last year, which makes the second year in a row where we have the reigning FedExCup winner playing in our tournament. Last year was Bill Haas. So we got a great connection with the FedExCup and happy to have it and to have those champions.

Now remember, last year the strength of field was the 6th best on the TOUR, other than the Majors and the FedExCup, in terms of the rankings of strength of field.

We also had 23 people, 23 of the players that played in the Humana Challenge last year went on to win PGA TOUR events in 2012.

Six of the Ryder Cup players were here last year.

So we're expecting the same and better than last year. And it's a testament to all the things you've heard here as to why they're coming and participating. So some exciting commitments.

Also, Bo Van Pelt who is on the Humana team, who has been having some great years and I got to see him hit a hole in one at the Masters this year on the 16th. That was kind of fun to watch our Humana folks get real excited when that happened. So he can maybe tell you the story about that when gets here. So Bo Van Pelt's committed as well.

So, look, we're really excited to have our defending champion Mark Wilson here with us today and I know it was a difficult thing to leave Chicago in December and come out here and rough it with us, but it actually, after I talked with Mark and learned more about his wife Amy and their family and his three boys last night, it is a sacrifice to leave your beautiful family for a time and to be with us. So we really appreciate it.

Mark, for those of you who don't know. His wife Amy is the President of the PGA TOUR Wives Association. And we're proud that the association is having their annual business meeting here in the desert this year.

I remember one time watching a golf tournament on television and it was the Verizon Champions TOUR tournament and the announcer said, the CEO of Verizon said, how on earth is this happening? You just have a normal event on the TOUR, but you have 20 of the Top 20 players on the Champions Tour, they're all here. How did that happen? And the CEO said, "The wives. We take such good care of the wives that the husbands have no choice, that they have to come to this event."

Mark and I talked about this and he's actually given me a few tips last night and then over here earlier he said, now watch out for the valet parking, you know.

We're going to do, let me just say, we're going to do everything we can to make the wives extremely happy while they're here and hopefully they will make it an annual event that they have one of their big meetings here. And I'm serious, because it's important. Everything's important. And I think this tournament has done a lot of great things for everyone, from the caddies to the players and looking out for the details, but as Mark advised us, we need to be the ones that say yes to everything.

And that's what we intend to do as a full five star service from everyone on up. And we're going to keep improving that. And not that it's been lacking, but that we're going to keep taking it to the next level so that we can keep attracting the great field. So it's great to have Amy on board. She's done a lot. Raising money for the TOUR wives and they have got a lot of exciting things going on.

Another thing is, I think we could kind of call Mark a local guy. Because Amy's parents live at Ironwood Country Club and so he comes out and spends some time every once in awhile, as he's done this week. And so he's kind of in our local family here as well. That's another thing.

Mark's career victory number five was the one that he had here last year with us. I think he likes the early part of the year because he then went on to really make it happen at the Accenture World Match Play Championship, winning the consolation match, coming in third after defeating Lee Westwood. So great time of the year out here for you, Mark, and we look forward to having you again and defend your championship.

And one last thing I would like to say about it is, another distinguishing thing about Mark is, I think he's the only PGA TOUR winner whose actually gone on to break the trophy that was given to him, as he did with the Bob Hope Trophy. I'll let him tell the story on that. So ladies and gentlemen, Mark Wilson.

(Applause.)

MARK WILSON: Well thanks, Bob. That was very nice. Bob also is working as my PR man, so, doing a good job already. But also thanks to everybody at this table. I think you can see the enthusiasm for this event from everybody from John and Tom and Valerie and Ric of the PGA TOUR and then of course your new CEO, Bob.

I'm honored to be the champion last year and to be back. You touched on it before, but PGA West has been very kind to me. The only times I made it through Q School successfully were at PGA West on three separate occasions. Never figured it out in Florida. But PGA West was always good to me and that's how I first got on the PGA TOUR in 2003, just down the road there at The Stadium Course.

So I have great memories. And then you touched on it, too, that I'm actually an honorary member over there at Ironwood Country Club where my in laws have been members for I think about 20 years.

So I love coming here, I spend a lot time, not a lot of time, but a little time here in December, January, February, just kind of getting ready for the season or kind of in between events on the west coast. So that's the first thing that kind of stands out for me from last year, the meaning that it brought to kind of, I guess, Ironwood Country Club and my in laws and those people when I did win the Tournament.

And they followed me around many other Bob Hope Classics, and I certainly didn't win. And so they have been there through the thick and thin and I was happy to bring the victory to them to share as well.

The second thing that stands out in my mind is the whole health and wellness initiative that the Clinton Foundation, Humana, have partnered to do. And it's a big part of my life, it's been a big part of my life since I was an athlete, I feel like I've been an athlete my whole life, whether it was just track and field when I was eight years old or what. But basketball and golf are my loves growing up. And I remember reading books when I was a teenager about how could I improve, what I'm putting in my about body and then just workout stuff. And now I employ a physical trainer and this time of year I really get after it. It might not look like it, I'm not looking for bulky, I'm looking for to improve my golf. But know that I'm sweating hard in the gym and I think that's such a cool initiative.

And I have a little story about that from someone that a lot of you probably know here, a radio personality Rich Gilgallon does a radio show on 920 AM, he's a good friend of my father in law's and he's become a friend of mine, I've been on his show a few times. And he had a heart attack within the last couple years and it made him re evaluate his life. Of course, he recovered from that, thankfully, but it made him think about what he needs to do going forward and he really credits the Humana Challenge and what they did last year and improving awareness for the importance of exercise.

So he took it upon himself after that tournament to walk 3,000 steps a day. And he's lost 70 pounds, I'm sure he's eating better too, but he feels like he's in the best shape of his life that he can remember.

So it's just one little story that kind of hits hit home for me that this guy really was inspired by the Tournament. So congratulations to the Tournament and to all you media who have helped promote it. Really appreciate than it's made a difference in Rich's life.

The third thing that stands out and I've got to list 24 things, so just get ready.

(Laughter.)

No I just got four. I just got four.

The third thing was just Bill Clinton's personal involvement. My wife Amy and I were fortunate enough on Wednesday last year to be able to get to know him in a pretty quiet setting. About 20 of the Tour players got to meet him and it was neat to see how excited all of us players were. We don't get excited about too many things, maybe Augusta National, stuff like that, but when we were all getting ready and wondering when he was going to come in the room, everybody was really giddy about it. And it was neat to see how he interacted with each of us and how we were the most important thing at that moment. And it's an amazing quality that he has.

And then he was on the golf course on the first tee the final round, wishing me luck as we started, me and Zach and Robert as we were the final group, saying, good luck today guys.

And then I even got a voice mail from him the next day saying, sorry I had to get out from the tournament, but I want to congratulate you on a job well done and I think the Tournament was great. And I managed to put that into my iTunes library and so every once in awhile when I'm working out, I put it on shuffle and it goes from Eric Clapton to bill Clinton.

(Laughter.)

It's kind of fun. It's something I'm going to keep, make sure I I got it backed up numerous places.

(Laughter.)

So I can share it with my grand kids, God willing. So it's just his involvement was mind boggling and it was just the first year. So I'm it was cool to have his personal touch.

Then the last thing was for me a personal thing was, it is my fifth tournament win, but it was the first shoot, I'm sorry it is tough being away from my family. So it was the first time that they have actually run to me on the green when I made the winning putt. I've won before that and had my wife come and that was great, but I can't believe that this is, I'm choking up, but the green is right there so. I can even see it.

(Applause.)

But so my boy Lane was four at the time and then my son Cole was two and it's in the dark and I putted in. And us golfers somehow have an ability to focus on what we're doing, so I kind of forgot they were even there. I knocked the putt in, I had about a minute to reflect on somehow what God helped me accomplish this whole week. And I turned around and there's Amy and the boys running to me. And it was just a moment that I'll never forget. We got pictures for it, too, so if I do happen to forget, I got those, but.

So personally, it was, I definitely rank it as my No. 1 win on the PGA TOUR. And it will be tough to surpass it, but I'm excited for the future and the future of this event. It's an honor to be here and thank you for y'all taking the time to come here today and for those of you playing golf today, enjoy the beautiful weather. Thank you.

(Applause.)

TOBY ZWIKEL: Thank you very much, Mark. It means a lot to hear your words and obviously it's an incredibly important. So thank you. And thank you to all of our panelists as well. We have a few minutes for some questions and answers, if anybody has any questions. If you can maybe go to the microphones to ask them, so the transcriptionist can get your question, as well as the answer.

Q. Mark, congratulations on the year. Obviously you got off to a great start during the year. Then you had family things pop up during the year. Do you want to tell us about the addition to the family?

MARK WILSON: We are another boy born August 15th, Graham, was born to us. And that was right, just before the playoffs started and so that was pretty cool. He's now four months old and sleeping great. So all is good. I'm sure yeah, I started the year off great again and just fizzled, didn't play well in the Major championships the way I would like to.

But I'm really excited. This time of year is a fun time for me to refresh and recharge for next year and I'm working on some new things that I'm really excited about and just looking forward to Christmas and the heading out to Hawaii and of course coming back here.

Q. Valerie, I got to tell you what the Alliance for Health Your Generation is doing in our schools in six months time to get in all of our public schools is just amazing. So thank you for that. I just had a quick question. Great videos. Will they be available to us for social media marketing?

TOBY ZWIKEL: We can make them available. Sure. Yes.

Q. I wanted your opinion of last week's events where some of the players were getting players using the long putters were getting heckled at Sherwood and also your opinion on the putter rules.

MARK WILSON: As far as I know they're still legal, so there shouldn't be any heckling, in my opinion. You still can use them. I'm looking for any competitive edge I can get. So if that helps a player putt well and he thinks it helps them, he should continue to use it until the rules say otherwise. So that's too bad that that happened. I didn't realize that happened.

As for the rule change, belly putters were, Vijay Singh won a lot of tournaments in the late '90s, early 2000s using it, then he went back to the conventional putter, so it was more of a fad then. I see a trend for guys continuing to use it now, but I guess something had to be done. They feel like that, the main thing is they feel like it's not the way the stroke was intended to be when the Rules of Golf were made way back when.

So I think it's going to be a good change and you're giving guys three full years to figure out a solution to the, to how they might putt differently.

Q. Bob, obviously the last year was a Major year for this tournament in terms of changes. From the addition of the Clinton Foundation, having Bill Clinton around all the time, actually, last year, to the format changes and the like. Obviously you want to keep that buzz going this year, do you feel like this is a year to consolidate this tournament or to continue to move forward?

BOB MARRA: What do you mean by consolidate?

Q. I mean just, you know, make sure everything that worked last year works this year or continue to move forward?

BOB MARRA: Look, we're with one of the country's largest companies. They don't stand around and wait for keep things the way they are, we're with President Clinton and his team and our Desert Classic Charities team has continued to grow our efforts, so we're not going to stand still with it, we have surveyed pretty much everything that was done last year. We have talked to sponsors, we have talked to people this year about what we could do to improve it and we're going to do a number of those things.

So the sky's the limit with this tournament and the players are talking about it. Mark told me last night I heard from others that they are talking about it on TOUR. Brandt Snedeker told us that it had a great feel to it and among the players, they're looking at it as something for the ones that didn't participate last year as hoping to come out this year.

So I think that there are a number of ways that we can continue to grow it. But I am glad that you asked it, too, because the number of times over the years I've heard the theme that we need to get younger people out to the tournament. So what can we do there. So I think the theme days that we have got going this year another thing that we're going to do is we're going to step it up on hole number 17 out on the Palmer Private and we're going to start a tradition of our version of the bird's Nest at 16 in Phoenix.

MARK WILSON: That hole is hard enough already.

(Laughter.)

BOB MARRA: We're going to

MARK WILSON: Those things are fun. Those things are fun.

BOB MARRA: If Mark likes it, I'll show you the plans later. Your wife will love it. So I'm telling you that spot's where the kids are, right up front.

MARK WILSON: The screaming babies right in the front.

BOB MARRA: Yeah, that's not good, is it.

MARK WILSON: No.

BOB MARRA: I'm still learning some things. But I think that we want to step it up on all fronts. So bring some new people out, step up the theme activities, and grow it in prestige and we have got the team to do it.

Q. This goes to Bob or Ric. When you drop the Bob Hope name there's an inherent risk to losing some of the fans and it seems like you guys have actually gained traction. Can you put your finger on what has helped you be so successful this past year and looking forward?

RIC CLARSON: There was a both a conscious effort and a deep respect from both President Clinton and Mike McCallister at Humana to make sure that we continued the Bob Hope legacy. I've been at the TOUR long enough that I remember the Sammy Davis, Junior Canon Greater Hartford Open and it was hard to get on a shirt.

So we took a practical approach in moving forward while we wanted to make sure we honored our past. And that's why you see such a great integration of Bob Hope Linda Hope was here last year and we gave a lot of attention to how to keep Bob Hope the heart beat of this event.

But moving forward, it's on a new mission and it has a new purpose and a new goal. And that's why we wanted it to have it be the Humana Challenge and as much emphasis on challenge as the other words. And particularly in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.

I do want to add that we're excited, from the PGA TOUR's perspective, because we work with all of our tournaments on all three tours, but we're very excited with Bob's appointment as Executive Director and CEO, the fact that he is a Coachella Valley resident, he's been here since '93 with deep roots, we do owe a debt of gratitude to Larry Thiel for the two years of service, three years of service I guess he put into the event. He's had some personal situations with the health of his wife that's caused his departure, but he took this to another level and Bob has picked up the baton in very short order and is running magnificently with it. And particularly with the teamwork and support he gets from the Desert Classic Charities board. So we're delighted with this together anything's possible toward a common cause.

Q. The celebrities were really kind of the stars of this tournament, perhaps almost as important as the professional field for many years, what do the celebrities mean to this tournament now as the focus has shifted towards health and wellness and you've shortened it, where do they fit into the followed of this event now?

BOB MARRA: Well I think it's a great opportunity to have celebrities that feel the same way and that can get the word out to a broader group as well. So again, different demographics in many ways than what we traditionally would have, talking about things like well being and tying it in with golf.

So we look at it as an opportunity to have celebrities who are good partners in that respect who want to get the word out with us. And so we're looking, we're putting together a great group I think and we'll introduce those pretty short order. But there's still going to be a celebrity presence here and we're going to make sure that they're going to be people that the folks in the community want to come out and see, but also to be good spokespeople for what we're trying to do.

Q. It seems like I do sports talk radio here in town and it seems like there's this push in sports in general to become more socially conscientious and socially responsible. PGA TOUR's a bunch of kind of independent contractors, but it seems that they all are on this mission to become more socially responsible. Do you feel that in the TOUR as well? Is that something that you guys have tried to build?

RIC CLARSON: I'll start it off and hand it to Mark, but we're certainly proud of the image of our players and how they carry themselves. At the core is honesty, integrity, and sportsmanship. And that gives us a great foundation to actually conduct our commerce in the marketplace, because I think people look at how the players handle themselves and it's something that people strive to do, not only when they play golf, but off the course as well. And you saw it in the Walk Like a Pro thematic. The players on the TOUR are inspirational and aspirational. So they each have their own individual causes as well, but collectively as a group, I mean, they are the PGA TOUR. They're the cornerstone of it.

MARK WILSON: Personally, in the last 10 years, I've been on TOUR now 10 years and the difference the amount of traffic in the fitness trailer, we have a fitness trailer that travels with us, it's kind of like a RV but in the inside it's all fitness equipment. The traffic in there is much more than it was 10 years ago, so if that tells you anything about what guys are really focusing on their fitness.

And then conversations on the golf course or whatever do go around food too. We indulge, there's no doubt about it, you got live well and enjoy life. But at the same time we're very conscious of what helps our performance.

So I personally have a ritual of what I eat before each tournament round. I always have a chicken sandwich that I make that day that I take with me, because I want to eat sporadically throughout the day instead of a big meal to start and a big meal at the end.

So that's one thing. You see other guys doing either protein bars or certain drinks or a lot of guys are starting to have just a big bag of nuts, cashews, like that in their bag and eating that periodically through the day instead of loading we kind of are starting to look at ourselves not like an automobile like, oh, we'll fill it up with gas to start the day and then we'll get through this six hours on the golf course and then we'll fill it up again.

We realize that that's not how the body works, so we're just slowly putting stuff in there that we have learned over time works the best for our performance.

TOBY ZWIKEL: There will be opportunities for one on ones and again those who are playing golf if you would like to go to the practice range and prepare for your round scheduled to tee off at 11:45. So we got some time. But again if you would like to ask any one on one guess.

MARK WILSON: One last thing, sorry. But on the range, I'll be down there giving you all a hard time as you're warming up. Or helping you, giving you some tips, something like that. So before you go out there, I'll change my golf shoes and I'll be out there. I might not hit any balls, but I'll try to help you hit it better.

TOBY ZWIKEL: Thanks very much, Mark. Thank you all.

Print This Story