The Honda Classic was founded in 1972 as Jackie Gleasons’ Inverrary Classic. Gleason was a marquee name, a staple of the television variety shows of the time, and best remembered today as bus driver Ralph Cramden in The Honeymooners tv series and Minnesota Fats in the Paul Newman movie, The Hustler. His was one of a number of celebrity hosted tournaments, including the Crosby Clambake (now the AT&T National Pro Am), the Bob Hope, and the Glenn Campbell (now the Northern Trust).
American Motors served as title sponsor for one year (1981). In 1982, Honda began its long-running sponsorship of the tournament.
The Gleason was originally held at the Inverrary Golf Club in Lauderhill, Florida. In 1984, it moved to the TPC Eagle Trace in Coral Springs, Florida. From 1992 to 1995, it was held at the Weston Hills Golf and Country Club, then it was back to Eagle Trace for one year (1996). The TPC at Heron Bay hosted from 1997 to 2002. In 2003, the event moved to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, first at the Country Club at Mirasol through 2006, then starting in 2007 at PGA National Resort and Spa’s Champion Course. The move to PGA National was apparently in part an effort to attract more top players. That course is well regarded on Tour.
As of 2007 one of the tournament’s main beneficiaries is the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, which is chaired by Barbara Nicklaus, wife of golfing legend Jack Nicklaus. Having the Nicklaus name attached to a tournament also can’t hurt.
Four men were multiple winners at the Honda:
Jack Nicklaus: 1977, 1978
Johnny Miller: 1980, 1983
Mark Calcavecchia: 1987, 1998
Pádraig Harrington: 2005, 2015
Nicklaus won three if you count his 1976 victory at the Players Championship which was held at the Jackie Gleason site at Inverrary.
Honda Classic Records
- 18-hole score: 61 (Brian Harman/R2/2012)
- 72-hole score: 264 (Justin Leonard/2003)
- Largest margin of victory: 5 (Jack Nicklaus/1977, Camilo Villegas/2010)
- Best come-from-behind win: 7 (Padraig Harrington/2005)
- Playoffs: 9 (most recent: Justin Thomas def. Luke List/2018)
- Low round scores are held by Dan Pohl (1989), Hale Irwin (1979), Tim Herron (1996) and Jerry Kelly (2003)—all at 62.
A list of Honda Classic winners follows.
|The Honda Classic|
|2015||Pádraig Harrington (2)||274||-6|
|Honda Inverrary Classic|
|American Motors Inverrary Classic|
|Jackie Gleason-Inverrary Classic|
|1976||No tournament. |
The Players Championship.
|Jackie Gleason Inverrary-National Airlines Classic|
|Jackie Gleason’s Inverrary Classic|