The Honda Classic Gives and Grows

The Honda Classic returns on February 20th and brings with it a week of fun and philanthropy. The PGA Tour at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens is perhaps best known for its attention to the fan experience, but it also offers a lot (millions, to be exact) to local charities. This year is poised to be the biggest on record, with new amenities, vast donation goals, and a renowned playing field.

Jack Nicklaus, USA Today Sports Images

Jack Nicklaus, USA Today Sports Images

“From the day that Honda made its decision to come to Palm Beach County and when Barbara and I decided to start the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, it’s been a whole new chapter in our life,” said Jack Nicklaus, who has designed a couple of the course’s more creative cups. “The whole community has responded beautifully to the tournament and our foundation. And we are so blessed to have so many kids benefit from the partnership.”

Tiger Woods is competing this month, after spending a year and a half returning to playing shape. Adam Scott, who won last year’s title, is returning to defend his crown. In 2016 he outlasted Sergio Garcia, who will be fresh off a wire-to-wire win at the Dubai Desert Classic. He joins a growing international class of players featuring Englishmen Justin Rose, Paul Casey, and Ian Poulter; South Africans Ernie Els, Branden Grace, and Louis Oosthuizen; Irishmen Padraig Harrington and Grame McDowell; and even Palm Beach’s own products Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger. Justin Thomas, just 23 years old and eighth-ranked in the world after back-to-back victories, is riding his wave of momentum into south Florida.

Last year the event attracted over 202,000 spectators, compared to 50,000 for an average tour event. Visitors can view the world-class field at the PGA National Resort & Spa. Responding to demand for an upscale viewing experience, the site has created the luxurious Legend’s Club at Nicklaus Village.

“This is more than just a golf tournament. We’re also in the entertainment business,” said Kenneth R. Kennerly, executive director of the Honda Classic. “That and the philanthropy efforts are really what drive us.”

A $750 ticket earns holders a ground-level enclosed skybox with private, front-row patio to see 18th-green play. The 2,000-square-foot, climate-controlled hospitality venue boasts a menu with full breakfast and lunch offerings including seafood, carving station, and full-service bar with champagne. It joins the already well-known party atmosphere of the Bear Trap (three holes at the end of the course designed by Jack Nicklaus himself) that already features lounges, a wine garden, and military appreciation area.

The 2016 Honda Classic drew in over $3.3 million for various local charities, with $1 million going exclusively to the nearby Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, the tournament’s top beneficiary.

“There is incredible fundraising in and around the tournament,” said Patty McDonald, president and CEO of Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, co-chaired by Barbara and Gary Nicklaus (the real stars of the events, according to Jack). “The very generous supporters in the area inspired Jack and Barbara to start the foundation.”

Adam Scott, 2016 Honda Classic Winner Photo by Lynne Sladky AP

Adam Scott, 2016 Honda Classic Winner

Photo by Lynne Sladky AP

Last year’s funding went toward expanding the pediatric emergency care at Jupiter Medical Center. “I like to think that new logo and tag, Honda Classic Cares, speaks for itself,” said Barbara Nicklaus. “We’ve opened outpatient clinics, we’ve brought pediatric care back to Jupiter, and the Honda has been there every step of the way to help us.”

Whether the world-class golf, generosity, or leisure attracts you to this year’s event, it’s certainly sure to be a classic. Tickets can be purchased at thehondaclassic.com.