Column: The Crowd: Toshiba Classic is now the Hoag Classic

Golf is a metaphor for life. Think about it. Men and women spend countless hours plotting a strategy that will result in placing a small, hard white ball into a distant metal cup buried in a field of grass. The ancient philosophers described the plight of Prometheus in reference to man’s inner struggle. Golf, of course, had not yet been invented.

When it comes to mastering the game, it’s not just the field of pros, who dedicate their lives to chasing perfection. It’s also about every fan in love with the game.

Why? Because golf is as much a mental game as it is an athletic one. It really requires a gift.

With that “gift” in mind, the Hoag Classic, Orange County’s only official PGA Champions Tour event, takes place March 6 to 10, with presenting partners Konica Minolta and City National Bank. The event will draw golf legends back to the Newport Beach Country Club as they compete for a $1.8 million purse.

With more than $20 million in total proceeds raised throughout its history, the tournament is one of the most successful philanthropic events on the tour.

This year, newly minted as the Hoag Classic, the tournament’s net proceeds will benefit Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian’s programs and services, as well as other local charities, reported Chelsea Thompson, a Hoag media contact.

“Hoag is proud to be a partner and beneficiary of the Hoag Classic,” said Robert T. Braithwaite, the hospital’s president and chief executive. “When Hoag opened its doors more than 65 years ago, our founders envisioned a hospital to serve those in need in Orange County. The Hoag Classic stands for the very same purpose — to benefit and help meet the needs of the local community.”

The Hoag connection makes the impact of this event in the community special. For fans, sharing the golf experience with players who include Fred Couples (a favorite in Newport Beach), John Daly, Mark O’Meara and Bernhard Langer, the game is clearly elevated knowing that dollars raised are funding outstanding health care in Orange County vis-a-vis Hoag and its affiliates, doctors and staff. In any community, what is more important than health care?

Jeff Purser, executive director of the Hoag Classic, has been at the helm of this tournament (formerly the Toshiba Classic) for two decades.

“The Hoag Classic provides an unparalleled opportunity to contribute to and enhance the health and vitality of our wonderful county,” he said.

To this end, Purser and staff have created a week-long schedule of community-oriented programs.

In conjunction with Casey Kaut, general manager of the country club, Purser and team will host a “Breakfast of Champions” on March 5, prior to opening day, March 6, at the iconic clubhouse. Allergan will sponsor the breakfast. The Legends Pro-Am, an event open to the public that is sponsored by Konica Minolta, will follow that day and continue on March 7.

Special events include Corporate Day, March 8, under the wing of City National Bank, a major presenting sponsor. Military Appreciation Day follows on March 9, offering active duty personnel and veterans (and up to three guests) complimentary admission, food and beverage service.

Then, for the final round on March 10, guests 18 and younger will receive free admission as part of “Students Day” sponsored by Kingston Technology.

Single-day tickets are priced at $25 online and $30 at the main gate. Tickets are also available at participating Roger Dunn Golf Shops.

To learn more, go to

B.W. COOK is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.