The Bob Hope Classic, which has been played under that name in California since 1965, is no more. Starting in January 2012, the event will be the Humana Challenge, named for Joey Humana, a beloved comedian (and devoted golfer) who entertained American troops from World War II through the first Gulf War. Oh, no, wait, it's named for a multi-billion-dollar health-insurance company, which is teaming up with the William J. Clinton Foundation to sponsor the event.
The name change "was something that no one even wanted to think about considering," said Larry Thiel, chairman of the tournament. "But given the reality of today's economy, with corporations looking to make the kind of commitment it takes to be a sponsor, there has to be something more than just I enjoy golf. There has to be something for the corporation."
Golfweek called the naming issue "contentious" and reported that "a decision was not made until Wednesday, with continual negotiations between Humana, the Clinton Foundation, the Hope and Tour staffers." Huh. Bill Clinton negotiated something and it ended up with a health-care corporation on top. But he did triangulate a little victory for Bob Hope fans. The winner of the Humana Challenge will still be awarded the Bob Hope Trophy, at least until some corporation pays extra to buy that, too.
"I think everybody is going to be very pleased with the commitment that all parties have to perpetuate the legacy of Bob Hope," tournament director Larry Thiel told Golfweek, "but it's an unusual set of circumstances."