Bob Hope Classic Now the Humana Challenge
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Bob Hope no more...

In light of signing a new sponsor, the Bob Hope Classic will become known as the Humana Challenge (but I’m pretty sure that everyone will continue to call it the Hope). According to the PGA Tour press release, “Humana working with PGA TOUR, Clinton Foundation to advance well-being and continue Bob Hope’s legacy; tournament features new 4-day format, expanded field.”

Of course when a company is doling out millions of dollars to sponsor a tournament, chances are it’s going to want its name included, so this move was pretty much inevitable. To soften the blow, the spin on all this is to add “an innovative new focus on health and well-being.”

More from the release:

“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.

While taking Bob Hope’s name off the tournament is unfortunate, the good news is that there still is an event.

“If Bob Hope were around and said, look, we need to — we’ve got a new sponsor, we’ve got to do a deal and I think it’s going to be around for the next 30 years if we can make a name change, I think he takes that in a heartbeat,” said Joe Ogilvie after firing a three-under 67 in the first round of the AT&T National. “But having Humana around and having a president kind of put his name on the event for the first time, I think that’s kind of an important deal. It kind of goes back to the history. Clinton has already played in the event once. How many presidents did he play with, Ford, Clinton, Bush?

“So I mean, there’s some precedent there. It kind of sucks to have Bob Hope’s name off of it, but I think that you’ve seen that process.”