Jan
22
2011
President Clinton to Become Future Host of the Bob Hope Classic?
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Could the Tour form a partnership with the Clinton Foundation?

The possibility of President Bill Clinton getting involved with the Bob Hope Classic was raised by PGA Tour player Joe Ogilvie on Friday. Speaking to golfdigest.com, Ogilvie, one of the Tour’s brightest, believes bringing in Clinton as host would revitalize the struggling event, which has been without a sponsor since 2009 after Chrysler went bankrupt. In response to Ogilvie’s comments, the PGA Tour handed out an official statement to the press in the media tent at the Hope on Saturday morning:

The Commissioner and the PGA Tour have been in discussions over the past several months with the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative regarding a broad partnership that would involve the Clinton Foundation’s longstanding commitment to improving lives with the Tour’s “Together, Anything’s Possible” charitable initiative. This includes the potential for leveraging the Bob Hope Classic as a focal point for this partnership. We would like to stress these discussions are in progress and any speculation as to the details would be premature. When completed, a detailed overview will be provided.

And here’s what Ogilvie told John Strege of golfdigest.com:

I think it might need an A-list host that says, ‘you know, this is an important event. The Eisenhower Medical Center has touched a lot of people’s lives,'” Ogilvie said following the third round of the Bob Hope Classic on Friday. “I think the guy I’d have host this tournament is Bill Clinton. I think he was a Republican’s best friend, even though he was a Democratic president. He obviously holds huge cachet with the Democratic party. And this tournament has always had a political element. I remember watching it when [former Speaker of the House] Tip O’Neill played it, and it had the three presidents play [in 1995, when Clinton, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush played]. A Bill Clinton would add instant cachet. He also would bring in an A list-clientele and he could walk a sponsor in.”

Sounds like a win-win situation to me. Not that political affiliation should matter, but last I heard, there are two Democrats on the PGA Tour. Whatever, I’m pretty sure the players would just be happy to hear another tournament has been saved. Then again, in recent years it’s been difficult to attract the game’s elite to play in the Hope. I guess five rounds in Palm Desert, four of which are played with amateurs, isn’t quite as alluring as the million or so reasons the best in the world are given to play in Abu Dhabi.

As an aside, I’ve been surprisingly pleased with the Hope — it’s actually a great event to cover and very well run. While it’s been a little painful at times to watch several amateurs, who are delusional about their playing abilities, hack it around with the pros (and getting in their way, mind you), the Hope is a wonderful tournament.