The official 2013 PGA Tour season is underway and already Nicklaus Design is the leader in the clubhouse. No fewer than 17 PGA Tour-sanctioned events will be played on Nicklaus Design courses this year, beginning this week with the PGA Tour’s Humana Challenge. The Humana Challenge is being played on the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif., in the Coachella Valley. At the same time, the Champions Tour’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship tees off at Hualalai Golf Course, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course in Ka’upulehu-Kona, HI.
Notable stars in the Humana Challenge’s 156-man field include Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, 2012 Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III, 2012 U.S. Open Champion Webb Simpson, and Humana Challenge defending champion Mark Wilson. Committed celebrities dotting the roster of 156 amateurs include actor Anthony Anderson, Tampa Bay Bucaneers cornerback and free safety Ronde Barber, singer Michael Bolton, rock musician Alice Cooper, Carson Daly, four-time NFL rushing champion Eric Dickerson, NFL Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk, Don Felder, member of famed rock band the Eagles, Hockey Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr, NFL placekicker Jay Feely, actor Peter Gallagher, actor Michael Pena, actor Craig T. Nelson, actor Alfonso Ribeiro, MLB Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, and comedian Ron White. Players will compete for their share of a $5.6 million purse in the tournament’s four-day, pro-am format that is also played at PGA WEST’s Palmer Private Course and La Quinta Country Club. Sunday’s final round will consist of professionals only.
The Jack Nicklaus Private Course became the third course at PGA West to host the Humana Challenge, formerly the Bob Hope Classic, in 2009. Once ranked among the “Top 100 Courses in the World,” the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course features elevated tees, sunken fairways, and undulating greens that challenge the best of the best. At 6,951 yards, the Nicklaus Private Course has the highest stroke and slope ratings of the three Private Courses at PGA West. It is a certified Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary.
Meanwhile, the Mitsubishi Electric Championship on the Champions Tour delights players to a test of golf on the west coast of Hawaii Island, the largest of the Hawaiian Islands. The 7,053-yard, par-72 course sits atop a landscape shaped by centuries of volcanic eruptions. According to the Golden Bear, "The inspiration came from the lava…to use those natural ups and downs, always keeping in mind that the ocean is the greatest influence here." To meet the challenge this spectacular terrain presented, Nicklaus was at Hualalai every step of the way, routing, designing and refining each hole.
The par-3 12th hole provides an adrenaline rush for any challenger facing this expansive contoured green, with a deep bunker strategically placed in the middle. "Every golf course needs a little controversy," Nicklaus offers, “but it is a very playable course and I think the people staying at the resort and the people who live here are going to enjoy it." Hualalai’s 17th hole is where Nicklaus takes the golfers to the sea with a green that "actually touches the ocean."
The course will indeed be a test of golf for 40 of the game’s most decorated players and champions. Defending champion Tom Forsman takes on a powerhouse field, including stars such as Mark Calcavecchia, Fred Couples, Tom Lehman, and Tom Watson. The winner takes a $307,000 share of a $1.8 million purse.