San Diego Open At Torrey Pines Finds A Sponsor

The former Buick Invitational has found a sponsor just a week before the first golfer tees off. The event, which has been played since 1927, now will be known as the Farmers Insurance Open. Buick had been the sponsor since 1992, but ended its contract a year early with the bankruptcy of parent company General Motors.

The tournament first was held in 1927, when it was known as the San Diego Open. (The first winner was Leo Diegel.) It was played again in 1929, and then not again until 1952, when it resumed as the San Diego Open. In 1955, it became the Corvair San Diego Open. It was the San Diego Invitational from 1957 to 1967. In 1968, it changed its name to the Andy Williams Invitational, following a trend of entertainers “hosting” events. Andy Williams kept his name on the Tournament, both alone and with a series of sponsors (Wickes, Isuzu, Shearson Lehman Brothers and Shearson Lehman Hutton), until 1989. Shearson Lehman Hutton was the title sponsor until 1992 when it became the Buick Invitational.

The various incarnations of the San Diego Open have been played at Torrey Pines since 1968. Prior to that, it was played at The San Diego Country Club, The Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club, The Mission Valley Country Club (and also at the same course under the name Stardust Country Club and Riverwalk Golf Club) and the Singing Hills Club. All, however, have been in and about San Diego.

I bring all this up only to reflect on the notion that even though tournament sponsors and venues have changed, it’s nice that the community of San Diego continues to be the beneficiary. San Diego is an old friend and the Tour was right to work to keep it in the rota.

Michigan wasn’t so lucky. When Buick dropped sponsorship of its tournament in Grand Blanc, the entire thing packed up and moved to West Virginia, leaving dozens of Michigan charities in the lurch. I honestly don’t think the Tour looked very hard for a sponsor for that one. They had a glamorous new acquaintance at the Greenbriar and didn’t think too long about leaving the old friends in Michigan behind.

The Tour could afford to do that when Tiger’s popularity was driving the sport forward. But in his absence, I wonder if a retrenchment isn’t in order. Again, I’m reminded of advice I once was given: Your old friends—although perhaps worn and not-so-glamorous—need to be appreciated. When things start to get tough, those are the friends you really want to have.

To quote Tracy Lawrence, in one of my favorite songs:

  Everybody wants to slap your back
  wants to shake your hand
  when you’re up on top of that mountain
  But let one of those rocks give way then you slide back down look up
  and see who’s around then

  This ain’t where the road comes to an end
  This ain’t where the bandwagon stops
  This is just one of those times when
  A lot of folks jump off

  You find out who your friends are
  Somebody’s gonna drop everything
  Run out and crank up their car
  Hit the gas, get there fast
  Never stop to think ‘what’s in it for me?’ or ‘it’s way too far’
  They just show on up with their big old heart
  You find out who your friends are

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