With Ernie Els winning the 2008 Honda Classic with a one-stroke victory, and the tournament celebrating over 25 years of patronage from main sponsor American Honda – which has backed the event since 1982- the event had managed to raise over $600,000 in charitable contributions and is continuing it’s remarkable support for children’s charities.
2007 heralded the dawning of a new era for the management of the Honda Classic, with the Children’s Healthcare Charity, Inc. taking over the running of the tournament. Barbara Nicklaus, wife of the great Jack Nicklaus, was unveiled as the chairperson of the new tournament directors, while Ken Kennerly is now entering his second year as The Honda Classic’s Executive Director.
The 2007 installment of The Honda Classic saw this previously nomadic tournament adopt the PGA National Resort & Spa’s Championship Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, as its new home until 2012, as it looks to establish itself more firmly on the section of the PGA TOUR known as “The Florida Swing”.
PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem expressed his delight at unveiling the format of The Honda Classic, saying: “Through the support of Honda and the direction of Children’s Healthcare Charity and the support of Barbara and Jack Nicklaus, this championship will continue to grow in this thriving market and increase its charitable impact. We look forward to a bright future.”
A significant step towards increasing the tournament’s charitable impact was certainly taken in 2007, with The Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation becoming the primary beneficiary of The Honda Classic. The Foundation provides charitable support for activities that can help to enhance the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of childhood diseases and disorders. It supports not-for-profit programs and projects aimed at pediatric health care and health-related services – with the Children’s Hospital at St. Mary’s Medical Centre as a major focal point.
Barbara Nicklaus has been thrilled with the new partnership and in particular the special emphasis on children in need. In fact, she had pointed out that The Honda Classic actually persuaded the family to start the Foundation in the first place! The PGA Tour puts great stock in the Nicklaus name as the boost it needs to help grow this Tour event, which has in recent history failed to attract some of golf’s biggest names despite its impressive $5.5 million purse.
But for the Foundation itself, the primary goal is to give back to the children of its community. The Honda Classic is without a doubt helping in this regard, as the Foundation’s website explains: “While we strive to provide Palm Beach County with a premier professional sporting event, our ultimate goal is to positively impact youth in need. With many thanks to all those who were a part of making the 2008 Honda Classic a success, the event was responsible for over $600,000 in charitable contributions bringing our total to over $16 million since the event’s inception.”
The signing of an extension of American Honda’s sponsorship of The Honda Classic until 2012 is an added display of support for the charitable intentions of the Foundation. According to Dick Colliver, Executive Vice-President: Auto Sales Division of American Honda, the extension of the company’s sponsorship agreement “not only demonstrates our commitment to the event and the new venue, but also to the involvement of the Nicklaus family and the opportunity to help support the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation.”