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HUMANA CHALLENGE MEDIA DAY
December 2, 2014
BRIAN ROBIN:¬† Welcome, everybody, and thank you for coming out to the 2015 Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation Media Day.¬† In case you don't know me, my name is Brian Robin.¬† I'll be your emcee/traffic cop for the festivities today.¬† We are in for a very good day.¬† Ignore the weather outside.¬† The karma is shining for us.¬† Based on some of the announcements we're going to be making, you'll understand why the karma's shining on us.¬† We're going to get in some golf.
Let's move on, and I would like to introduce our head table.¬† The gentleman to my immediate left is John Foster, the President of Desert Classic Charities.¬† The operational arm of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation; to his left is Tom Noland, the Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications for Humana; to his left is Valerie Alexander, the Chief Marketing Officer of the Clinton Foundation and to her left, is Bob Marra, the Executive Director and CEO of the Humana Challenge that will be making some pretty impressive announcements today.
With that, I'd like to reintroduce John Foster, who will give us a recap of the tournament, and what we're looking forward to in 2015.¬† John?
JOHN FOSTER:¬† Welcome, media.¬† We appreciate your help and effort as we get the word out on the 2015 Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.¬† I'm going to go backwards a little bit and look at 2014.¬† It was an interesting year because we had a newcomer jump onto the scene who ultimately won, I believe, three tournaments last year, and had made a very strong effort in the Ryder Cup, and that was Patrick Reed.
He started off the tournament going 63, 63, 63, looking like there would be no daylight.¬† He was challenged at the end by Zach Johnson, I believe, and Ryan Palmer, as he shot a 71 to finish up and win.¬† Obviously, had a great year.¬† We expect him to be here, obviously, and he's obviously established himself as one of the fine players on the PGA TOUR.
He was little known coming into the year.¬† He had been noted for his wife being on the bag, and she was having a baby, and he threw the brother on the bag.¬† So I think the brother has got a permanent job now.
The other thing we did last year, and I think it's unique in the Pro‑Am, there are very few Pro‑Ams where you actually play with pros live action, but we started a cut on Saturday.¬† The top three gross teams and the top three net teams in our Pro‑Am competition were able to play on Sunday with the pro field, and they played off for the winner of net and gross.
There are very few tournaments that really good gross players have a chance.¬† You don't usually see the 0s and the plus‑2s and plus‑3s playing because they don't figure they have much of a chance with a net game.¬† So I think that addition to this tournament in the Pro‑Am was an important one, a fun one, and I know the guys who won thought it was very good.¬† The guy that won gross, I believe he was from Massachusetts, and so he is a fine amateur player back there.¬† I think you'll find more and more very fine amateur players playing in this tournament.
I believe, and I don't know if I'm stretching the truth, but I think it's close to the average handicap of the amateurs, and the challenge is around nine.¬† So it's between nine and ten, and that's quite an effort to get that many good players to play in a Pro‑Am like that.
So we have a very unique Pro‑Am.¬† It's an important part.¬† It dates back to our history with Bob Hope.¬† We always want to bring Bob's name up.¬† When we got together with Humana and the Clinton Foundation, the one thing they wanted to emphasize was that they did want to remember Bob Hope forever.
And this tournament will always have mention of Bob.¬† We've got Bob Hope Square.¬† We've got Bob Hope Club.¬† We've got Bob Hope numerous things.¬† So you'll expect to continue to find that because he's still a great legacy for this tournament.
2015, and I'm not going to take any of Bob's thunder because I'm going to let him go through this field, but I think what you're going to be looking at this year, and we're going to look back on what I think is going to be one of the strongest fields we've had in years.
And one other important factor that I think all the pro players and amateur players really enjoy, and that's our courses.¬† We have three of the finest manicured courses.¬† You'll talk to the pros and they'll tell you that they won't play on greens like this very many times in their TOUR, even though they look great and you hear about a lot of great greens.¬† These greens here in this valley and the manicure, and the excellence that all these courses produce is spectacular.¬† La Quinta Country Club has been a long supporter.¬† They've been involved since, I believe, 1965.
PGA West has been involved.¬† Since '89 the Palmer course has been involved in hosting the tournament.¬† Both these clubs give up time and energy for their members for darn near a week.¬† It's very well appreciated by the tournament, but also the community and the charities.¬† Without these fine clubs donating and getting involved with our tournament, it would be very difficult to put on.¬† So that said, we'd like to thank them and recognize both of them for the fine courses they put up.
At this time, I'd like to thank and say a couple words about Humana.¬† Tom Noland is going to be up here and say a few words, but I think before he gets up here, on behalf of the tournament and this community, as you know, 2015 tournament will be their last hosting of the event.¬† They have come to us and made us a very strong tournament.¬† They also got together with the Clinton Foundation and came up with one of the most unique messaging of health and wellness, especially on the PGA TOUR, but probably in the community.¬† This highlights one of the great issues of our time right now, and these two folks have gotten together and given a message.
This community has jumped right in.¬† You see it daily.¬† The city of La Quinta, who is one of our fine partners, they endorsed us and have supported it.¬† There are many events alongside the actual golf tournament.¬† The Health Matters Conference, which is getting bigger and bigger, and more and more important each year.¬† So this community is very proud and very happy to have both of these fine companies and organizations with us, and we certainly appreciate it.
So thank you to Tom, you and the Humana group and Valerie for the Clinton Foundation, which worked together with all of us to do a wonderful job and we certainly appreciate our relationship with them.¬† Thank you.
BRIAN ROBIN:¬† Thank you, John.¬† Before I introduce Tom Noland, I wanted to touch on something that John had pointed out about La Quinta Country Club and give us a little pitch for the little media drives that all of you in the media should have received from us.¬† If you haven't, please see Damian Secore or Greg Ball to get the thumb drives.¬† Those have every bit of information you could hope to want to I know about the Humana Challenge.
One thing they have on there that we managed to put on this year is a little bit of information on La Quinta Country Club.¬† I want to touch a little bit about what John said about the greens here.¬† These greens that you'll be putting on today are among the best greens that any of the TOUR players putt on all year.¬† And that's not just me saying it, that is a couple of guys with green jackets named Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson who have said this.¬† And the quotes that they have are on those thumb drives, so we urge you if you're doing pieces on the tournament and the courses, take a look at what Zach and Phil and some of the other PGA TOUR pros have said about the greens here at La Quinta Country Club.
With that, I'd like to introduce Tom Noland, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications for Humana, who will talk about Humana's commitment to the tournament and what else they're bringing to matter in 2015.¬† Tom?
TOM NOLAND:¬† Thank you very much, Brian.¬† Thank you, John for those most generous remarks.¬† All of you in the audience have experienced the tournament for multiple years, and you know it's a well‑run event.¬† It's an innovative event.¬† It offers the Valley the highest level of PGA TOUR competition, and it's a lot of fun.¬† That's only possible because of the amazing partnership that we've all, four of us and beyond four, obviously I'm talking about Desert Classic Charities, Clinton Foundation, Humana, PGA TOUR, but La Quinta Country Club and the entire Valley has been able to put together.¬† So we're just very grateful and humble at Humana to have been part of it.
So I want to thank you again for joining us this morning.¬† I'll make a few prepared remarks.¬† As we prepare to celebrate this year's tournament, I'd like to start by thanking our partners who I've just named.¬† The country club here, the PGA TOUR, and also PGA West for the partnership that I just alluded to over the last few years.¬† On behalf of everyone at Humana, I'd like to thank the people of La Quinta, the people of the Coachella Valley, many of whom we've worked with side by side with Valerie and the rest of the Clinton Foundation team, on a number of charitable and well‑being oriented projects over the years.
The Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation has been a great platform not only to start conversations, notably at the Health Matters Conference, but then to inspire real action over the past few years that we've all been partners together.
The team responsible for the execution of the challenge has worked hard to make a significant impact on individual health, on well‑being, and on community health.¬† As examples, since 2012, we've built three playgrounds in areas of need in the Coachella Valley, with the help of our partners in the KaBOOM!¬† organization.¬† These multi‑generational playgrounds, and that's what distinguishes them.¬† If you've never been, check it out.¬† There are things for grandma and grandpa to do, as well as kindergartners.¬† It's remarkable that way.¬† They're a safe and lasting place where families can pursue fun and good health.
We've also worked to raise awareness about the benefits of healthy living among future generations by inviting members of the local First Tee chapter to join us on site for an exclusive look at the tournament every year.¬† Last year we hosted the First Tee kids from across the country to participate in a variety of fun and health‑focused activities as part of the First Tee Nine Healthy Habits Summit.¬† First Tee participants helped clean up a local neighborhood during the Chelsea Clinton Desert Day of Action.¬† They talked about health and sports with President Clinton, and Kobe Bryant in an ESPN town hall discussion, and if you don't think they didn't think that was cool, they did.¬† They even received golf and fitness tips from golf legend Gary Player.
These activities have helped educate people on how making even small changes in their daily lives can add up to a significant measurable impact on their health over a lifetime.
This year, we're excited to continue our focus on inspiring health for everyone who participates in events leading up to tournament week, and during the week itself.¬† For starters, Humana will once again host the Humana Well‑Being Walk and the Healthy Fun Fair on the Saturday before the Humana Challenge.¬† This year will be at a new location, and that is the Civic Center Park.¬† Humana Day at the Certified Farmers Market in Old Town La Quinta will return as well.¬† Highlighting our focus on healthy eating with delicious fresh fruits and vegetables from local and regional growers, as well as cooking demonstrations hosted by area chefs.
Inspiring better health through walking has long been at the center of our mission to encourage people to take small steps on the road to well‑being.¬† So we're excited to offer local golf fans and community members an opportunity to walk not only for their personal health, but also to generate charitable donations for local and national charities with the return of Humana WalkIt, powered by Charity Miles.¬† Just last month we enjoyed participating in a charity donation event here in La Quinta, in fact, here in this room ‑ as many of you know; you were here ‑ rewarding the community for steps taken earlier this year at the 2014 Humana Challenge.
Friends, family members, and community members walked more than 126,000 miles together.¬† That's a lot of miles.¬† To raise $50,000 to benefit charities right here in the desert.¬† We hope you'll join us once again in making every mile matter between Thursday and Sunday at this year's tournament, in an effort to raise even more funds to help benefit Desert Classic Charities.
If you haven't yet already downloaded it, the Charity Miles app is free and easy to use.¬† In fact, the app is active today, so make sure to download it before you get out there on the course, and be able to record your steps and also do good for charities.
New this year, Humana will also encourage people across the country to walk and generate donations for a favorite charity during Humana Challenge week.¬† Through our partnership with the free Charity Miles app, we'll be able to track national activity from Thursday through Sunday.¬† And at the conclusion of play, one person in each of three categories walking, running, and biking will be identified and have a donation made on his or her behalf to a national charity.
To learn more about any of these activities, be sure to stop by the Humana tent in Bob Hope Square.¬† Once again, as in past years, during tournament week, the area will be an interactive hub for fans with every station intended to create an environment where healthy activity is fun and engaging.¬† It will feature many fan favorites from past years, such as the smoothie bikes, free biometrics readings, and guidance for anybody who needs help with downloading the Charity Miles app.¬† Okay, quick quiz:¬† Who has done a smoothie bike?¬† Oh, a lot of hands.¬† Love it.¬† It's awesome.¬† Do it again this year.
So as we look forward, we always want to ensure that we remember the strong legacy of this special event.¬† Known as the Bob Hope Classic for more than 40 years, the tournament has a rich history of improving the lives of people who live in the Coachella Valley, and for its commitment to America's military.¬† Each year we strive to honor Mr.Hope, an American icon who supported the men and women of the Armed Forces with his humor, with his positive attitude, and with multiple goodwill trips around the globe.¬† Last year Military Appreciation Day featured a ceremony to honor members of the Armed Forces and their families.
This year, on Saturday of tournament week, we'll celebrate Patriots' Day, by encouraging fans to wear red, white, and blue to show their support for the men and women of our military.¬† There will be a military appreciation ceremony following the conclusion of play, and we'd love for you all to attend that with us.
Throughout the day, we'll offer free tournament admission for all active duty, reserve, and military retirees along with their dependents.
So to close, Humana has been honored and privileged to host this historic tournament, and we're thrilled to continue to pay tribute to Mr.Hope, whose legacy of laughter is an important part of the well‑being.¬† And beyond laughter, Mr.Hope was a man who many of you know walked each day.¬† Regardless of his schedule, where he was, the weather, the time of night, and of course lived to be 100.
We are proud to continue his legacy of health as well, and we look forward to walking alongside each one of you come January.¬† Thanks again for joining us this morning, and please enjoy the rest of the day.¬† Thank you very much.
BRIAN ROBIN:¬† Thank you, Tom.¬† Next up, one of the things that always marks Humana Challenge week is the Health Matters Summit that is something that captures the fancy of not only the media but the public at‑large, and it also brings an important message as it's doing that.¬† Here to talk about that and other matters involving the Clinton Foundation is Valerie Alexander, chief marketing officer of the Clinton Foundation.¬† Valerie?
VALERIE ALEXANDER:¬† Thank you, Brian, and good morning, everybody.¬† This is my fourth year representing the Clinton Foundation at Media Day, and as always I'm happy to be in such great company.¬† I never grow tired of seeing my friends at Humana, PGA TOUR, and the DCC to share with you all what we have in store next month and to emphasize our excitement for being part of this incredible tournament.
As I've said before, and as was mentioned here by John and Tom, the success of this tournament cannot only be measured by the great golf that is played here in January, and I don't think it's based solely on the tradition that Bob Hope started over 50 years ago, though I would argue that is a huge reason that this is so special.¬† But I think that it's because we're great partners.¬† I think we've seen the power of partnership, and what can be accomplished and achieved when we all work together.¬† Bottom line is good things can happen.
Yes, absolutely this is a world class golf tournament.¬† Yes, absolutely because of the tournament we're able to raise money for charity and for organizations that do really great things.¬† Yes, we hold a summit that shines a light on the importance of health and wellness, and brings other people into that fold that they can be part of a solution, and yes, we honor the legacy and tradition that Bob Hope started, really, as a trailblazer to bring this event and use it as a catalyst for good.¬† But underneath all of this is a spirit of partnership and collaboration and mutual respect and admiration and appreciation for what we all do, and I want to take a moment to reflect on everybody who does come together to make this a great event.
It started with Tim Finchem and the TOUR for having the vision to bring this group together initially.¬† It goes to the leadership of Humana for kind of unofficially giving us a mission statement at the beginning to think of this as a week of wellness with a side of golf, and really embracing that as our motto moving forward.¬† It also is a testament to John, and Bob, and Scott, and the DCC team that work tirelessly year round to bring a world‑class event to the Valley for our players, our professional players, our amateurs, and most importantly for our fans.
So when we first became involved four years ago, we wanted to bring something to the partnership that was uniquely Clinton Foundation, and to make a meaningful contribution to what we all found was our shared common goal, and "health and wellness" wasn't really just a nifty catch phrase, but rather a major component of our personal and community's success that we could all play a role in advancing.¬† So the Foundation has a long history and track record of bringing like‑minded people to the table to solve some of the world's biggest challenges.¬† With that, in our minds, the first Health Matters Conference started four years ago here in the Coachella Valley.¬† Within a year, the Clinton Health Matters Initiative soon followed.
To give you some context about the Foundation for those of you who don't know, we work in 37 countries all over the world, and we have over 2,200 employees and volunteers worldwide.¬† We have 11 initiatives.¬† One of those initiatives is the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, and it got its start right here, and it's because of this partnership.¬† So I think that is a testament to what can happen when everybody comes together and is working towards a common goal.
Since that first conference four years ago, our work in Coachella has resulted in more than $11 million in investment by local and national entities to advance the health status of folks here in the Coachella Valley.¬† The initiative, as thanks to incredible and committed strategic partners, has expanded its work beyond the Coachella Valley to five regions within the United States.¬† With foundation teams, much like the one you're all familiar with here in the Valley, working year round to form partnerships and to identify ways to eliminate health disparities, reduce the prevalence of preventible disease and lower health care costs.¬† We do this in three main ways:¬† Building national strategic partnerships, leveraging technology and digital platforms for innovation, and developing community health transformation blueprints, including the first one that was here and done in the Coachella Valley.
So we've made a lot of headway in the last four years.¬† Nationally our strategic partners have invested a total of $20 million into efforts that will improve the heath and well‑being of more than 75 million people across the United States.¬† So our impact is enormous, and I think that we can take great pride that that started with our partnership here in the Valley.
I think it's an appropriate time to introduce my colleague, Rain Henderson, who some of you may have met.¬† Rain is the CEO of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative.¬† She's been working since the beginning on the initiative and has been stewarding these efforts within the Foundation for many, many years and I hope that at the conclusion of our remarks today you'll seek her out, so she can give you more insight into what we're doing here in the Valley, nationally, and certainly as it relates to the conference coming up.
I will touch on a couple of things very quickly as it relates to January this year:¬† The Health Matters annual Activation Summit ‑ we were calling it a conference, we've changed that to a summit ‑ will take place January 25th through the 27th.¬† This is, for those of you keeping score, is a change slightly.¬† The conference used to start the week on Tuesday before golf.¬† The date has moved to the Monday after golf.
The overarching theme this year will be on healthcare transformation and systemic innovation.¬† Speakers will discuss the economics of healthcare transformation, how to create healthy equity, how to scale healthy communities, and how to create true and lasting health innovation opportunities.¬† We'll plan to highlight the successes and progress from Health Matters national and community‑based programs, and partners over the past year, inspire the more than 400 attendees and thousands of online participants to contribute to the health and wellness of their communities, congregations and corporations, as well as to help catalyze action within the Health Matters program.¬† Finally to increase the online dialogue about health improvement opportunities and solutions in the United States.
As in years past, we'll have a dynamic lineup of speakers and special guests from around the country, all focused on working on finding solutions to the myriad of health challenges our nation faces.
Rain and her team will be able to provide more information and announce speakers in the coming weeks.¬† So stay tuned for information on that.
Moving off of golf just for a moment at PGA West, and specifically at Bob Hope Square, we will, again, invite fans, spectators, everybody who is on the course into our hospitality tent to help them find ways to activate their own wellness personally in their own lives through, as Tom mentioned, interactive activities for the whole family.¬† We really have tried to build our hospitality tent as kind of a community, relaxed atmosphere so people can come and learn in a relaxed setting, because they can be part of the solution and hopefully inspire them to make some changes.
We will, after talking with Rain, we think it's a really great opportunity for us to highlight some of the work in the Coachella Valley that we've been doing over the course of the past four years, so people can see how we've gone from point A to point B in this work.¬† So we plan on highlighting the work in the Valley, so that people have kind of an up close and personal opportunity to see it in action.
As always, we'll display President Clinton's personal golf memorabilia, as we have in years past, as well as Bob Hope's golf memorabilia, which is shared with us generously through the World Golf Hall of Fame.¬† So I hope that you'll stop by.
I know I speak for everybody at the Foundation, my colleagues, who work with me all year long to help prepare for a January that we couldn't be more excited about what's coming up in 2015.¬† As Bob will mention, I hope, we should have a strong player field this year which will be exciting for us all.¬† There is definitely a real buzz on this TOUR about this tournament.¬† And we are so grateful that the community year after year continues to embrace our presence in January and throughout the year with our work through Health Matters.¬† We're only six weeks away, so I hope you're all very excited.
In closing, I'm going to anticipate a couple of questions, so here it goes:¬† I don't know President Clinton's schedule yet, so I cannot tell you when he is going to be here, when he's going to arrive and when he's going to leave, and I don't know if he's going to play.¬† But let's not end there.¬† I do have with me, a video that President Clinton taped specifically for this event.¬† Thank you.
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON (via video):¬† Thanks for coming out to our Media Day news conference, as we look ahead to the 2015 Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.¬† We're now in our fourth year together, but the real milestone is that this year marks 55 years since the beginning of the tournament, and 50 years since Bob Hope began his long run as host.¬† It's always been important to me that we keep the history and spirit of the tournament alive, especially Bob's contribution, because if it weren't for him, we wouldn't be here with so many great golfers and so many great fans.¬† We also wouldn't be here if it weren't for the leadership of the PGA TOUR, Humana, Desert Classic Charities and many others.¬† So I want to thank all of our partners for their commitment and dedication to putting on this world class event.
When Tim Finchem first suggested that we establish this unique collaboration and use it as a vehicle to promote health and wellness, I said yes right away.¬† I thought it was important because golf and health go hand in hand.¬† The game has so many health benefits and you can play it, as I know, no matter how old you are.¬† And the TOUR players have long been committed to helping others in their philanthropic and charitable giving.¬† So bringing people together to enjoy this event while simultaneously raising money for charity and shining a light on wellness has proven to be a natural fit.
So far we're making progress in going forward together.¬† So much good has couple of this partnership, and you'll hear more about that today.
So thanks again for coming out, and I hope to see you all in January.
BRIAN ROBIN:¬† Thank you, Valerie, and thank you in absentia, President Clinton.
Our final speaker before we turn it over to some brief questions and answers is the man who basically is the point for everything that happens on the golf front and behind the scenes off the golf front.¬† He will be bringing you some pretty exciting tournament updates about our field.¬† With that, I'd like to introduce Bob Marra, the CEO and Executive Director of the Humana Challenge.
BOB MARRA:¬† I'm just going to start with a clich√© and say that's a hard act to follow.¬† I mean, come on.
Before I talk about our plans for the golf tournament, I want to say that I'm so proud and honored to be a part of this team.¬† This tournament has been in my blood from my childhood.¬† I've told that story a couple times throughout my years as a fan of golf here in the desert 20 years, never missing it once, and I'm even more enthusiastic about it now in my position on this staff.¬† So I really relish the opportunity to serve the community and our board and our partners in my capacity.
I'd like to make some introductions.¬† I'll be doing several of those here today, so please bear with me.¬† I'd like to introduce the members of the Desert Classic Charities board of directors who are here with us, and ask that those who are not standing yet please stand.¬† We have Bill Tate here with us, Greg Helm, Clark Rainey, David Irwin, Roger Lowe, and Dick Ziegler all here with us today.¬† Thank you so much (applause).
I do beg to differ with Brian Robin though, I'm not the guy who is the point person for all things golf.¬† We have many people that are involved in all the details, and the board members are one part of lots of the details.¬† It's a working board and we do so many things together.¬† So I wouldn't want to take credit for so many things that they do.
And my great staff, we have members of the staff here.¬† Valerie mentioned Scott Easton, who is our managing director, and he's the point person out on the course who makes all those things happen, and makes the course have the best fit and finish that I've ever seen out on the PGA TOUR.¬† They tell us that as well.¬† So Scott, please raise your hand back there.¬† Thanks a lot (applause).
You've heard it a lot here today, but I want to give extra special thanks to our friends at Humana and their consultants who are here as well who have done so much for this tournament and the community.¬† Your financial support Tom and colleagues, your community projects and your brilliant creativity and hard work have combined to truly change the nature and scope, in my opinion, of professional sports sponsorships, I think it's not just my opinion, but a fact that what you've done has changed the nature of how major sports are sponsored, and you should be congratulated for that.
The other thing and I want to say this, I look forward to so many of the Humana colleagues coming back to the tournament, and I suspect you will.¬† So I have Bob Hope Club credentials waiting for all of you anytime you want to come back to the desert.¬† Or if you're full, we can always get you over to the Clinton Foundation box.
When people ask me what it's like to be the tournament director for a PGA TOUR event, I say it's a really great gig, and that I thoroughly enjoy, because my main job is promoting and selling great golf and fun.¬† That's what I do, sell golf and fun.¬† So I've been saying that a lot to anyone who will listen.¬† So today I want to tell you about the great golf and fun we've got in store for 2015, through the week of January 19th through the 25th at the tournament coming up soon.
But let me talk about our golf courses first:¬† If you're going to produce a first‑class PGA TOUR event, you better have some great golf courses.¬† You better have expert staff members at those clubs from top to bottom to pull it off.¬† And better yet, if you're going to play the tournament on private courses like we do, you better have some philanthropic members who are giving of their course and letting us have the time on it.¬† So I want to make sure I give a special "thank you" to our friends at PGA West.
Representing PGA West, we have Lon Grundy, the Executive Director here with us, and Director of Golf, Mark Ewing.¬† You guys and your staff are always there for us.¬† You get those courses in impeccable condition.¬† I told the story a couple years ago when I first came to Palm Springs I had some business to do, but the first thing I did was hopped in the rental car and drove right to PGA West, and I just about kissed the ground.¬† And I still feel that same great feeling of PGA West when I hit the intersection of Avenue 54 and Jefferson Street because it just keeps getting better and better.¬† So thanks to the staff at PGA West and the members for allowing us to use their private courses and for all the great work you do to get it in such incredible condition.
From La Quinta Country Club, we have Bruce Zahn, the general manager here with us in the back, thank Bruce.¬† And I thank Roger Buford, the president of the club is here.¬† Thank you, Roger, and all the members at La Quinta Country Club for allowing us to utilize your facilities and be a partner with us.¬† Great course conditions, one of my favorite things is hanging out in PGA West in the player dining area when they come in and register because I want to spend sometime and get to know the players, so that we can keep them coming back.¬† Just to hear them talking about the conditions of the courses and how much they love it, and how the best bacon on TOUR is at the PGA West player dining.¬† I just love all of it.¬† We really appreciate it, and couldn't do it without you.
Speaking of great partners, I want to point out for the fifth‑year in a row, all of the tournament is being played within the city of La Quinta, and we're happy and honored to have such great active and astute partners that we have at the city of La Quinta.¬† I know they have a city council meeting today, so they're all getting ready for that, so we couldn't have someone with us.¬† We're looking forward to continuing our work with the new Mayor of La Quinta, Linda Evans, and all the team there that has been so supportive.
So you have a great Fortune 500 company as a title sponsor, in partnership with an incredibly successful international foundation bearing President Clinton's name, and a stellar board of directors at the BCC and philanthropic club members.¬† That would seem to be enough to put on this tournament and make it happen, but it's not.¬† Without the support of the H.N. and Frances Berger Foundation and all they've done for us during the years that have gone by and that they're still doing with us, we wouldn't be able to do it.
To all of the sponsors here, large and small, in the Coachella Valley to come out and support the tournament, bring clients out, and celebrate the tournament with us, we're really happy to have them all along with us.
Now let's get to some of the facts and figures for the 2015 event, including some of the great news about the early commitments that we have so far.¬† The purse for 2015 is $5.7 million with $1,026,000 going to the winner of the Bob Hope Trophy.¬† This year we'll again have 156 players in the field.¬† That's more than the average PGA TOUR event, which has 144.¬† We've proven we can do it, and we've done it a couple times with pace of play before darkness, even with playoffs in 2012 and '13, and '13 went three holes and still got it done.¬† So we've proven we can make that happen.¬† So this allows us to get more players into the field from the PGA TOUR, and also more Pro‑Am players to be a partner with us and help support the tournament and that charitable giving that we did in this room by handing out the checks just a few weeks ago.
Okay, early commitments.¬† This is the time of the year when the players start sitting down, looking at their schedules and making commitments on where they're going to play in 2015.¬† I do want to share some of the names of the marquee players, and some others, in addition to defending champion Patrick Reed, who have made early commitments to the tournament, and trying to win that Bob Hope Memorial trophy.
First and foremost, I'm pleased to announce that Phil Mickelson has committed to play in 2015 at the Humana Challenge.¬† As always, we're super excited to have such a great champion and favorite play here in the desert.¬† I know the desert fans will be looking forward to him (applause).
I saw Phil Saturday night and was talking with him and Amy about it, and they're just fired up and couldn't be happier to be coming here.¬† They have a place at the Madison Club, so they have a connection to the desert community and really care about this tournament.¬† Like so many of these other players I'll announce, the trend has become that they like to come set up shop here early and rent a place, a home in many cases.¬† Bob Ravis from the Hideaway, director of real estate, has been great about finding players incredible homes over at the Hideaway, and our friends at PGA West have helped players get settled in.¬† They bring their families, and they get a lot of practice here.¬† Nobody hassles them here.¬† We're used to seeing celebrities and stars in the desert, so we let them go about their business, and they come here and get started for the year.¬† So the way the schedule is arranged this year has really helped us attract some of the players.
So in addition to Phil Mickelson, we've got the reigning FedExCup champion Billy Horschel coming as well.¬† Billy sent me a text three hours ago.¬† He's become like a pen pal, I said, "Billy, come on, let's go.¬† Talk to me.¬† I thought you were coming."¬† So he's coming.
So defending FedExCup champion, Zach Johnson will be with us again.¬† These are all top‑50 players, Chris Kirk, Defending champion Patrick Reed, Ian Poulter who hasn't been with the tournament for a while will be here.¬† Keegan Bradley who joined us for the first time last year.¬† Jason Dufner who has been a long‑time player in the tournament, but who played in Abu Dhabi and got the appearance activity going on there.¬† He'll be back with us this year.¬† A first‑timer who was a former No. 1 in the world, Luke Donald is coming to the tournament this year.¬† Made an early commitment.¬† Ryan Palmer, who as John mentioned, made a run at the championship last year.¬† Came up a little short but he'll be back.¬† He had a great year, won a tournament.¬† Kevin Streelman, who won an event last year, in the top 50, and Brant Snedeker who is a regular here, all of those will be with us.
Some early commitments include some European players, who we haven't seen at the Humana Challenge here, decided to come and join us.¬† Just two of those that I can mention now, Francesco Molinari, and Gonzalo Fernandez‑Casta√Īo, two great guys.¬† I've had a chance to meet them, and they're real characters and fun people, and I think they'll be popular here in the desert.¬† So other commitments will be coming in large volume as we get closer, and that is how it works.
Officially, players have until the Friday before tournament week to make a commitment.¬† So to have this much in the way of early commitments with that much star power, I think something's going right here.¬† We're looking forward to doing that.
I have one more special player announcement that is very exciting to me, and I think for all golf fans throughout the Coachella Valley and that PGA TOUR member who will be joining us is Byron Smith who was born at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs and grew up with his family here at Palm Springs in Rancho Mirage.¬† He earned his PGA TOUR card by finishing in the top 25 of the Web.com Tour list last year and was invited to some tournaments at the PGA TOUR Fall Series.¬† And has done so well that he's up high on the list for the Web.com grouping and will be exempt, I'm certain of it, for the tournament this year.¬† And he's here with us with his dad, Bob Smith.¬† Will you guys please stand (applause).
I think Bob should be so happy, and I know it was his first and long time coach, and it must feel great to be together and be doing this.¬† So we welcome you.¬† Byron, I sure hope it's the first of many tournaments that you share with us here in the desert.
Brian, thanks a lot.¬† Somehow Byron got onto my team today in the outing, so I look forward to teeing it up with you guys.¬† How does that happen?¬† I don't know.
To give you a little feel for the field and how it's been growing in the last couple years, remember that last year, five of this year's current Ryder Cup team members played at the Humana Challenge, and then 20 of the players in our field at the Humana Challenge went on to win tournaments during the year.¬† So not only do we have the marquee players that we all know, but there are plenty of players that are emerging and get their starts here and go on to big things throughout the year.
So expect the field to continue to grow and be stronger.¬† We'll keep making announcements.¬† I'll keep sending out as we get chunks of player announcements, we'll send them out along with other things.
I want to go over our Pro‑Am events for 2015.¬† Our portfolio of events is quite unique among PGA TOUR events, and we're proud of what is evolving as an incredible three‑day Pro‑Am, the Humana Challenge Pro‑Am.¬† I'm obviously biased.¬† But I think it's clear that it's the best Pro‑Am golf tournament in the world.¬† Nowhere else do you get to play with six PGA TOUR players during the tournament rounds, it's become extremely popular, we're essentially sold out for the Pro‑Am.¬† It's a high‑ticket item.¬† We have people coming from the United States and internationally to play in this program.¬† So we're excited about the success of that.
As John mentioned, we've done a lot of things to tweak the Pro‑Am in the last several years.¬† All of it is conspiring to lower the handicaps, which is good for the pro players that they can have a more consistent round with their Pro‑Am partners, so that's become a national event and the ultimate inside‑the‑ropes experience for golf fans.
Also unique on TOUR is what we call our Club Team Challenge.¬† That is a one‑day Pro‑Am on Monday, that will be held here at the La Quinta Country Club.¬† The Club Team Challenge puts teams together of golf clubs.¬† It could be a country club, a public course.¬† We have three members that pay a fee to be in the event and they partner with their club pro.¬† We pay a fee to the club pro of $500 to show our respect and courtesy for the industry that we so dearly respect here in the Valley.
So that's started off last year really well.¬† We're looking for a great turn out this year.¬† The guys up at Red Hill Country Club in Rancho Cucamonga won last year.¬† They have the trophy there.¬† So I encourage any Coachella Valley club out there to come back to the Valley, and hustle up and get involved in the club team challenge.¬† So there will be more information about, that's available.¬† It's an opportunity for clubs to get in and try to fight for bragging rights here in the desert.
I'm pleased to announce that on Wednesday our Pro‑Am has been renamed.¬† It's now going to be the Eisenhower Bob Hope Legacy Pro‑Am, and that is a reflection of our deep and long standing partnership with Eisenhower Medical Center, and they are partnering with us to help promote the tournament so their constituents, their board members and country club supporters of the tournament.¬† So this is a great opportunity for supporters of Eisenhower who are golfers to support the tournament and have some fun while doing it.¬† So we encourage people to look at the website, HumanaChallenge.com, and check out the Eisenhower Bob Hope Legacy Pro‑Am.¬† We still have spots available for those two Pro‑Ams and encourage people to jump in and get on board with that.
When people play in these Pro‑Am events, they also get credentials at Club 17, which we've talked about, and they get other benefits and great gift packages that I think they'll enjoy.¬† So like I said earlier, we sell golf and fun.¬† One of the really fun things we have, that we did last year for the first time was Executive Women's Day, presented by Astellas.
One of best moments I had was when I was walking towards the Bob Hope Club where the executive women's day was being held predominantly, all of a sudden, more than 100 women started coming out of the Bob Hope Club and coming down the steps, and I wanted a sense of how was it going, and there were smiles, and high fives and hugs and everything, and I knew right then that things went well.¬† We sold it out.¬† It went extremely well by all accounts.¬† We're doing it again this year.¬† Partnering with Astellas.¬† And we have several sponsors here in the Valley.¬† Tables are selling fast.¬† We've got a special keynote speaker named Cary Lawrence, who was the first U.S. F‑14 Tomcat pilot, who is going to get everyone fired up about managing their careers and networking and all those kinds of things, so we're excited about that.¬† Another opportunity for people to have fun.
As part of our efforts to attract a wide range of people to the tournament, hence the fun, we have theme days again this year.¬† So on Thursday, our theme is Seniors' Day.¬† A wide range of activities, and special discounts and benefits for seniors, a special $20 ticket gets seniors into Senior Day.¬† We've got a wide range of entertainment and fun out there for seniors on that day.¬† It's sponsored by the pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk.
On Friday, we have Women's Day.¬† So women can come back and enjoy the tournament.¬† Again, wide range of special deals for women, fashion shows and a host of activities, and Bob Hope Club and entertainment that we'll be looking forward to them enjoying.
On Saturday, it's Patriots' day, and we'll have complimentary admission for activity service military to come in and enjoy the tournament, and to enjoy the Humana military outpost with complimentary food and beverage.¬† And I know they went all out last year and it was a great experience.¬† It was great to see all of our service members out there.
On Sunday we have kids' day, which is sponsored by a new partner of the tournament, Loma Linda University Children's Hospital.¬† They're the sponsor of Kids' day, which will include‑‑ well, also supporting the fact that kids under 15 get into the tournament accompanied by an adult throughout the week, and we'll also have the Powerbuilt Junior Golf Clinic this year out on the range.¬† Last year we had 150 kids, more than 150 kids come out and get lessons from some of our First Tee partners, and partners at Powerbuilt and enjoyed that.¬† I expect it to be a smash hit again today.¬† Fun for the whole family, especially the kids on Kids¬í Day on Sunday.
This year we did something unique that we thought would break the mold of what we're doing in Bob Hope Square, and we're going to be introducing what we're calling the Food Truck Zone.¬† You may have seen it.¬† It's a popular craze going on.¬† We've contracted with a large group of food trucks.¬† Sometimes you go to these food truck festivals and there are two or three or four food trucks.¬† In our case we'll have up to 15 food trucks out in Bob Hope Square, serving everything from lobster rolls to some very healthy alternatives as well.¬† So we look forward to fun for everybody to come out.
So even if you're not a golf nut enthusiast and want to follow Phil Mickelson around, you might have some fun coming out, hearing some music and having a cocktail or two out at Bob Hope Square while enjoying those food trucks.¬† So this is something that's fun, and I thank my staff for making it happen.¬† It wasn't easy, and I think it's going to be a highlight for everyone in the Coachella Valley.¬† Couple more items to cover, and we'll turn it back to Brian, and he can open it up for questions.
Ticket sales are 30% ahead of where they were last year, and we hadn't even announced Phil Mickelson and the crew yet.¬† That is thanks to Greg Helm, in large part our board member that's been dialing in our ticket marketing this year.¬† So we hope when you get our press releases about the various specials we've been doing which are innovative this year, and value added, you'll promote and get the word out about those and we can make it a special year.
Club 17, in particular is a highlight, another fun area.¬† It's a sports bar theme along the 17th hole at the Arnold Palmer course at PGA West.¬† Even if you're not there to watch golf, you can watch some bighorn sheep come down the mountain and enjoy a beautiful day at a sports bar menu.¬† Last year we sold it out, and I regretfully had to turn off the switch on our website to cut off the tickets.¬† Scott and I are having a tug‑of‑war over how big we can build it, and how many tickets we can sell because I want to keep the spigot on and we're trying to continue to build it.¬† So that will be a special place.¬† We've had some specials on Club 17 and continue to promote that as well.
And our venerable Bob Hope Club, which is the ultra high‑end venue on the 18th hole out at the Arnold Palmer private course at PGA West is a great opportunity for people, especially local businesses to host their clients, and will be offering specials coming up soon.¬† You couldn't imagine a better view or better place to spend quality time with friends, family and clients at the Bob Hope Club.¬† So looking forward to having that.
This year with regard to celebrities, I've been asked about that, this year we're going to bring back a larger field of celebrities than we had last year.¬† We've done well with the Pro‑Am and have the ability to offer spots to celebrities.¬† We're working on a wide range of them, who will also entertain our Saturday party.¬† When we have the full field, like we have done customarily in the past, that's when we'll announce the celebrity field.¬† So I can't do it today, but expect to see something from us at the beginning of the year on the celebrity field.
So with that, I'd like to say, again, it was a tough act to follow with President Clinton, and I'd like to say a special "thank you" to President Clinton for doing that video for us, and for Valerie Alexander and her team for organizing it, and for so much great work that the Clinton Foundation has done throughout this community.¬† I'm super glad that Valerie shared the volume of work that's been done here through the Initiative and through the Health Matters Conference.¬† I think that clears the way.¬† I think it's been extremely helpful to setting us up for what I expect is going to be a question coming up for a new title sponsor, and who wouldn't want to partner with such great work that's being done?¬† So thank you to the Clinton Foundation and all your consultants and team that are here.¬† Enjoyable to work with, exciting to partner with.¬† So I'll turn it back to Brian.
BRIAN ROBIN:¬† Before we turn it over for some quick questions and answers, a little housekeeping to let you know what's going to be coming up.¬† After we finish the question‑and‑answer period, if you'd like any one‑on‑ones with anybody with the tournament, please see myself, Damian Secore or Greg Ball who is floating around.¬† We'll be happy to accommodate you on that front.¬† If you'd like to talk to Tom Noland or Valerie, please see Steve Maliszewski or Jim Turner, who can raise their hand and they'll handle all matters Humana.¬† I guess we see you, if they'd like to talk to Rain, Valerie?¬† Okay, that takes care of that.
So after we do the one‑on‑ones, there is a barbecue lunch that's being prepared for you back around the corner.¬† Please partake of that.¬† And after that, the range will open, if you want to get some quick practice in both on the range, and the practice putting green.¬† They'll be open at 11.¬† You'll be leaving at 12:15 for your starting holes.¬† The shotgun start is at 12:30.¬† Please try to maintain at least a decent pace so we'll get everything in before the sun goes down.¬† So 12:30, we'll be pretty anal about starting as quick as we can.¬† So keep in mind, about 12:15 to head to your carts.
We'll also be distributing the press release on the tournament and other matters that are already on your drives, but we'll be sending it out via e‑mail within the next hour.¬† With that, I'd like to open matters up to questions.¬† Before I do please use one of the mics that are passing around because we are recording this for transcription.¬† Questions?
Q.¬† Bob, having Phil back in the field is a nice perk, but that's a fairly impressive list of names you reeled off.¬† Can you talk about the stronger field this year than last couple of years.
BOB MARRA:¬† I think it's a combination of several factors.¬† From more emphasis on recruiting among the partner group.¬† We had a strategy to attract more players and to promote the tournament and let people know what's going on.¬† So I think that's been a big thing.¬† When I'm out on the driving ranges, whether it was down at Doral where we had a partner meeting or talking to the players or going to the BMW Championship or out on the range, I feel like never does someone not say something like, "I love what you guys are doing down there."¬† They're not saying, I love that you're putting on a PGA TOUR golf tournament, because that's without saying.¬† They know what's happened with the health and well‑being theme, and it resonates with them.
So what I hear a lot is, "If there is any chance I can get there based on the way the schedule shakes out, I'm going to be there."¬† So I think that's one thing.
I think the schedule itself has helped because of the move back a week.¬† So not competing with Abu Dhabi has certainly resonated here.¬† When you look at players that I mentioned, several of them were getting appearance fees in Abu Dhabi.¬† I was asked last year by perhaps you and some others, do you resent the fact that a certain player would go and play that?¬† And I say, of course not.¬† They have to take those and participate in it.¬† So we're simply not against it.¬† We're against the Qatar Masters, so unless someone's planning to play at Abu Dhabi, take an appearance fee and stay and go in Dubai a couple of weeks later, maybe play Qatar or do something else in the Middle East while they're waiting, then we've got a great shot at them, if they're going to start the tournament here in the United States.
Another odd thing this year with the way the Super Bowl is matched up at Phoenix, I've been hearing from a number of people that it's actually helping us because when we look at things, like I said, Bob Ravis at the Hideaway and our friends at PGA West and other areas who are providing great homes for the players, especially ones with young families and some up‑and‑coming players, they can get a great house here, an incredible house for a great deal.¬† The homeowners want to say that Luke Donald stayed in my house.¬† So they give them a really good deal.¬† You go talk to people in Phoenix and now you're competing with Fortune 500 companies for house rentals because they're renting them for Super Bowl, and they're five times the price.
So a lot of these marquee players said, you know what‑‑ Phil Mickelson said to me on Saturday, "We'd just love to come there and set up shop.¬† We get in.¬† We don't get bothered.¬† We get a lot of practice in.¬† Stay for a while and get geared up for the season.¬† We want to do well in the Humana Challenge, and we want to get ready and tuned up."¬† So that is prevailing.¬† Players like Zach Johnson, and Brant Snedeker and some of the others that have stayed at these places like the Hideaway have been talking about it, and I've been saying it.¬† What do you look at when you're trying to recruit players and talk to them about coming here and get a better field, you've got to look at your greatest strengths.
So I think that is one of our best strengths is the lifestyle here, and the way we can give them the opportunity to get ready for the year.¬† So little bit of luck, little bit of skill, and we have a great field already.
Q.¬† Bob, this is probably a question for you:¬† Are there any specific benchmarks you have going into 2015 that you hope to deliver to potential new sponsors?
BOB MARRA:¬† The benchmarks for us always reside with return on investment.¬† So anybody that invests with us, whether they buy ten Bob Hope Club credentials to host clients or they sponsor kids' day, we work with them to make sure that they can measure the return on investment and we are closely aligned with them as we plan out what they're doing with us, so they can assess what's happened.¬† And that is really the key benchmark.¬† We certainly look at how many people are out in attendance.¬† How many people go to the various activation booths that we have in Bob Hope Square, and those are some of the metrics, but it's a feel and measurement by each client individually from the large ones to the small ones as to whether they got return on their investment.¬† That's why we all work so hard to make it interesting for everybody, and enjoyable for everybody.
So if you want to come out and learn new things about healthier eating and exercise and seating all the demonstrations that are going on at the Clinton Foundations expo space, and you want to see the Golf Hall of Fame rather than chase the golfers, all of those things add up to the ROI for the sponsors and partners.¬† So those are really the benchmarks.
Q.¬† You guys had to turn the Titanic once Humana came on board.¬† Do you feel like you're continue to steer it in the same direction, regardless of the new sponsor?
BOB MARRA:¬† I absolutely am confident of that.¬† I feel like we're in warm waters with no icebergs, if you want to follow along with the Titanic theme.¬† I just do.¬† I've been saying this in the past.
When you look at who comes on as a new title sponsor, you have to remember, what I've been saying is heavy lifting.¬† A lot of the heavy lifting was done by this group.¬† It took a lot of guts to take the tournament from all of those years of history and say we're going to change it from a five‑day tournament to a four‑day for the PGA TOUR players, and we're going to change the format totally for the Pro‑Am, which meant we had to increase the price.¬† We're going to introduce this week of well‑being with a side of golf.¬† I hope that works.¬† When you have the smarter people you have and the more industrious and creative people you have, the better chance it's going to work, and it worked.¬† It wasn't luck, they just did it.
So with that platform, I think the risk of not getting return on the investment from a potential title sponsor, and the risk that this doesn't keep rising is mitigated because of what we've done together.
BRIAN ROBIN:¬† Larry got his quote, "warm water with no iceberg."¬† You'll see that in the paper.
Q.¬† Could you talk about the television coverage this year?¬† And do you as a tournament handle TV rights or is that handled by the PGA TOUR?
BOB MARRA:¬† The PGA TOUR handles the TV rights for us.¬† I'll answer that part first.¬† This year we're covered all four days on the Golf Channel.¬† We're proud to have them as a partner.¬† One of the things in having the Golf Channel do the telecast, in my opinion, it gives us greater flexibility and amount of quality time for our partners to talk about what they're doing and their involvement in the tournament and the sponsors throughout.
But the Golf Channel gives us a fantastic worldwide coverage.¬† Some of the highlights include something that was really‑‑ we have some friends from the Epoch Times, a Chinese‑based media that are here today.¬† I was talking to them about this as an example, we were talking about the PGA TOUR sets up the Thursday and Friday pairings, and that with the Golf Channel we know what primetime is in the Asian countries, and we put our Asian players right in that slot.¬† So we have the flexibility to do those kind of things, and it's worldwide coverage.
So we're pleased with what we're getting with the Golf Channel, and from CBS 2, also, on their coverage of things like today.¬† You can use that iceberg thing, too.¬† I can't even remember it.¬† (Laughing).
BRIAN ROBIN:¬† Thank you, again, for taking time out of your busy day to join us on the Humana Challenge Media Day.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports