The Crowd: Pro golf Hall of Fame’s Ernie Els to headline as Hoag Classic returns

Military Appreciation Day at 2020 Hoag Classic. This year's Hoag Classic tournament slated for March 6 through 8.
Military Appreciation Day at 2020 Hoag Classic. This year’s Hoag Classic tournament is slated for March 6 through 8 at Newport Beach Country Club.
(Courtesy of Hoag Classic, 2020)

Jeff Purser, executive director of Hoag Charity Sports and his team are making final arrangements for the anticipated return of the Hoag Classic at Newport Beach Country Club over the first week in March with championship tournament play March 6 through 8.

The golf event has been seriously missed during the pandemic; it’s a shining star of community support for Hoag, puts a spotlight on professional golf played in the O.C. and is viewed nationwide. According to Purser, the 2022 tournament will return with a record $2-million purse on the PGA Tour Champions schedule.

This year, as in previous outings at NBCC, the weeklong event will include Military Appreciation Day, Student Day, among special programs planned reaching out to the community. Such special programing will be sponsored and underwritten by a host of presenting sponsors led by Hoag in the title sponsor position. Among the generous are Konica Minolta, City National Bank, Kingston Technology, Surgical Theater and Allergan, to name only a few.

Local citizens joining the corporate sponsor ranks include Alan Adams, Hank Adler, Dick and Hyla Bertea, Alan Beyer, Bob and Terry Callahan, Jim and Viki Coufos, Bob Sorosky, Dave Wheeler and Burton Young.

Among other pros expected on the field for the Classic are Billy Andrade, John Cook, John Daly, Jay Haas, Berhard Langer, Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin, Loren Roberts, Vijay Singh and Kirk Triplett.

Originally launched as the Senior PGA Tour in 1995, the tournament history began with play at Mesa Verde Country Club, Costa Mesa. Toshiba was the event sponsor for 23 seasons. In 2019, Hoag Hospital took over the title sponsorship. This year’s event marks the 26th golf outing for Orange County’s only professional tournament.

As March arrives with COVID pressure hopefully lessened, the crowds will come practicing safe social distancing and protocols still in discussion to ensure the ideal tournament experience. The Hoag Classic will be headlined by Ernie Els, World Golf Hall of Famer joined by a roster at this time that includes Jim Furyk, Steve Strickler and David Dural. Many more players have yet to confirm.

Jeff Purser and Duffy Waldorf at 2020 Hoag Classic held at Newport Beach Country Club.
(Courtesy of Hoag Classic, 2020)

Perhaps most significant is the role this championship golf plays in supporting Hoag Hospital and the overall community health at large, in addition to many other important local needs and nonprofits. Purser, who has been in charge of the event since 1998, has raised more than $21 million. Pre-pandemic shutdown, the Hoag Classic became the first senior tour championship to raise $1 million for charity in one year.

To learn more about the Hoag Classic, including tickets and admission policies visit

Bringing back live theater in the O.C.

The much admired and long-running Laguna Playhouse is starting off 2022 with a $50,000 grant bestowed upon the theatrical organization thanks to Orange County District 5’s Arts Related Small Business and Nonprofit Grant Relief Program.

O.C. Supervisor Lisa Bartlett was instrumental in securing this grant for the Playhouse. Her action rose out of a personal connection to art education and performance in the community.

“During 2020, many arts related businesses and nonprofit organizations in the 5th District Arts Related Grant Relief Program last year used American Rescue Plan funding to provide much needed financial assistance to eligible arts organizations in my district,” Bartlett stated. “In 2020, Laguna Playhouse was prepared to celebrate its 100-year anniversary but was sadly forced to cancel its Centennial Gala and theater season due to the pandemic. As such, it was my great pleasure to present Laguna Playhouse a check for $50,000 this week to help support its many wonderful theatre performances, programs and events going forward.”

Erin O'Flaherty,  Lisa Bartlett, Executive Director Ellen Richard and board member Heidi Miller with a $50,000 grant check.
Erin O’Flaherty, Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, Laguna Playhouse Executive Director Ellen Richard and board member Heidi Miller with a $50,000 grant check to support the work of Laguna Playhouse.
(Courtesy of Laguna Playhouse)

Laguna Playhouse Executive Director Ellen Richard added, “The Board of Trustees and all of the constituents of the Laguna Playhouse are very grateful to Lisa Bartlett and the Board of Supervisors for the level of support of the Playhouse and for all of the arts in Orange County. This funding comes at a critical time as we recover from our extended closure.”

Making a real difference for 45 kids

With the arrival of January a post-holiday good deed resonates on the streets and alleys of Orange County in neighborhoods from Costa Mesa to Santa Ana dealing with kids living under challenging economic circumstances.

In December, Mark Ontiveros, local community activist and donor to Costa Mesa’s nonprofit Serving People In Need (SPIN), called on his son and their friends and co-workers to build and assemble 45 bikes purchased on Amazon by Ontiveros and his business Audio Images to be donated by SPIN to local kids in need.

Audio Images employees assembling bicycles to be donated to Serving People In Need.
Audio Images employees assembling bicycles to be donated to Serving People In Need and passing out to local kids in underserved neighborhoods of O.C.
(Courtesy of Audio Images)

The crew spent hours working together to finish the bikes in time for Christmas, along with preparing some 200 hygiene kits to be passed out as well, along with bike locks and helmets for safety.

Ontiveros was lauded by fellow SPIN donors at a year-end dinner gathering held at Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club, Corona del Mar. Stephanie Smolkin, executive director of SPIN, joined Kim Frazier, director of events and special services, in commending Ontiveros for his “hands-on personal generosity that made a huge difference in the lives of 45 kids in the O.C.” SPIN ended 2021 serving more than 750 families with children rescued from homelessness in this community. To learn more about the work of SPIN, visit

Mark Ontiveros and his son Henry work with his business Audio Images co-workers to assemble 45 bikes.
Mark Ontiveros and his son, Henry, work with his business Audio Images co-workers to assemble 45 bikes to be distributed by SPIN for local kids in need.
(Courtesy of Audio Images)

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