The PGA is Coming to Town
Two local golf tournaments draw the best to Southern California.
The PGA Tour kicks off in January with two of its most popular stops: The Humana Challenge played in Coachella Valley and The Farmers Insurance Open played in San Diego at the fabled Torrey Pines North and South Courses. With a promise of good weather and an exciting field of pros, both events draw large crowds.
Scheduled for Jan. 17 to 20, this year’s Humana Challenge (humanachallenge.com) marks 53 years of this desert tournament, formerly called the “Bob Hope Classic.” Several changes were made to the tournament format by the new Humana group, and all were well received by the playing pros. The biggest change was going from a five-day format to a four-day, and having the pros play with only one amateur partner instead of four.
The tournament has a long and rich history, starting in 1960 as the Palm Springs Golf Classic, marking the first of five wins Arnold Palmer claimed at the meet. After the tournament name changed to the “Bob Hope Desert Classic,” several San Diego professionals were victors: Billy Casper in 1965, Phil Mickelson in 2002 and 2004, Charlie Hoffman in 2007 and Pat Perez in 2009.
The week is all about good golf, good fun and raising a lot of funds for local charities. Desert Classic Charities, the local non-profit entity representing 40 Coachella Valley charities, received more than $2.1 million in donations last year. This year’s event will be played over three of the desert’s most challenging venues: the Palmer Private, the Nicklaus Private and the La Quinta Country Club.
The biggest buzz at last year’s tournament was the participation of former President Bill Clinton. The week began with the Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters Conference, which attracted some of the nation’s top health and fitness experts, drawing in some of the best crowds in years. This year proves to be equally exciting, with Phil Mickelson beginning his PGA Tour season at this the Humana Challenge.
Every year, the Century Club of San Diego brings the Farmers Insurance Open (farmersinsuranceopen.com) to town. Set for the early-in-the-year dates of Jan. 24 to 27, the PGA pros are eager to test their skills—and this tournament always makes for an exciting finish. Last year’s winner, Brandt Snedeker, won in a play-off with Kyle Stanley.
The tournament, as always, is played over the North and South Courses of Torrey Pines in La Jolla. Fans back East and in the Midwest love catching the event on television, because of the storybook course, hang-gliding and views of the ocean not seen at other events. And locals can take it in—in person.
The Golf Channel is scheduled to cover all four days of the tournament. Local favorite Phil Mickelson is scheduled to play along with several other familiar names. Since 1968, the Century Club and its affiliated corporate title sponsors have combined to generate more than $22 million to nearly 200 local charities.
Get out and be a spectator at these two classic events, or at least settle yourself in front of your television to watch some great golf and see some celebrities having great fun. Who knows? You may even pick up a few tips for your own game.