The Champions Tour’s Chubb Classic arrives at the TwinEagles Club in Naples, Fla., for the banner 10th year—this time under a new name and a revamped image. Previously The ACE Group Classic, and founded in 1988, the event has been played in the picturesque southwest Florida beach town for all 29 years—it is the second-longest stretch of any event in one metropolitan area in Champions Tour history. The name change reflects the acquisition of The Chubb Corporation by 17-year title sponsor ACE Limited, and its adoption of the Chubb name.
The event tees off Friday and features 81 of the world’s best senior players battling for a $1.6 million purse. Watch the action on Golf Channel from 12:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. EST; Saturday from 1:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST, and 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. EST; Sunday from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST; and Monday from 1:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST.
This week’s Chubb Classic features the strongest field in tournament history, with the top 30 players from the 2015 PGA TOUR Champions money list in attendance, as well as eight members of the World Golf Hall of Fame: Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Larry Nelson, Curtis Strange, Tom Kite, Fred Couples, Mark O’Meara and Sandy Lyle.
“We are excited to support our title sponsor by following suit with a new tournament name and overall rebrand of the event,” said Tournament Director Matt Hilliker. “Becoming the Chubb Classic allows us to revamp our look within the Naples community and be the first event to showcase the new Chubb corporate brand. The name of the event is changing, but our commitment to delivering the highest-quality event and fan experience will not waver.”
The name and brand isn’t the only thing that’s changed. The main entrance for spectators has been moved from near the driving range in the main parking lot to an area behind the No. 1 tee. That has the spectators going through the expo area, as well.
“We think that’s going to change the flow of the event,” Hilliker said. “It’s going to be easier to get buses in and out, and hopefully make it easier on the spectators coming and going.”
The other change was not exactly planned—heavy rainfall last month created some challenges related to land availability. Parking for caddies, volunteers and exhibitors has been moved, and so has the volunteer center.
“TwinEagles has been a great partner,” Hilliker said. “They’ve allowed us to utilize pieces of land to accommodate these changes.”
While the entire TwinEagles staff is experienced in meeting the challenges of tournament week, the level of preparation, attention to detail, and number of hours required to fulfill the demands of the week are substantial.
Preparing the course starts well in advance of the tournament. The PGA Tour makes a course visit and completes a report, including course preparation suggestions for Bruce Bach, the club’s superintendent.
During tournament week, the PGA Tour expects the putting greens to be fast; the rough to be mowed to a particular height; and pins to be placed in a way that results in challenging yet fair playing conditions. The fact the tournament is being nationally televised on the Golf Channel adds an additional layer of responsibility for Bach.
To ensure the natural beauty of the Talon Course is accurately conveyed on television, Bach visits each of the camera towers to see exactly what the cameras will be seeing and how the nuances of the course translate on television. This level of attention to detail and the level of care the course receives throughout the year explain why the Talon Course has become a preferred course for Tour events—also having hosted the 1999 Father/Son Challenge (won by Jack and Gary Nicklaus) and the 2012 CME Group Titleholders on the LPGA Tour.
Even the club’s executive chef, Chas Tatigian, and his team are prepared to kick it into high gear. They are expected to serve more than 4,000 meals during the week, including hosting breakfast, lunch, dinner, and post-round cocktail hours. Tatigian will supplement his staff with additional help to ensure everything runs smoothly.
For TwinEagles’ members, hosting the Chubb Classic is a great source of pride. The tournament annually attracts a strong field from the top of the Money List and World Golf Hall of Fame members, and members are afforded an opportunity to be fully engaged during tournament week. They have full access to the clubhouse during the week and share the dining room with the players and tournament officials. Members receive VIP passes to attend the tournament and are welcome to bring guests on Friday and Saturday. Valet parking is provided and there is a members-only hospitality suite.
Since 1988, the Chubb Classic has raised more than $3 million for charity. The official host charity of the tournament is The First Tee of Naples/Collier.