The Desert Classic Winners and History

Desert Classic Winners and History
The Desert Classic Winners and History

The Desert Classic Winners and History

Update: The Desert Classic now is The American Express

The Desert Classic Presented by Workday is the latest incarnation of the long running Palm Springs Desert Classic which began in 1960. Over the years, it has been known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic, The Bob Hope Chrysler Classic (probably its two best-known incarnations), the Humana Challenge and the Careerbuilder Challenge.

Whereas the Bob Hope Classic was unique on the PGA Tour for being played on four different courses over five days, the tournament now uses the regular TOUR format. It remains, however, one of two of the Tour’s televised celebrity pro-am events (the other being the AT&T National).

The tournament format:

  • A four-day tournament, beginning Thursday of tournament week, with the first three rounds played in a pro-am format.
  • For each day of the three-round, pro-am competition, the professional has a different amateur partner. Amateurs will compete in daily competitions as well as an overall, three-day competition.
  • Round 4 is professionals only with a normal 70 + ties cut.
  • The top three low net and low gross amateurs will play alongside the pros on Sunday to determine the overall winners .
  • The overall low net amateur and low gross amateur playing on Sunday will be awarded crystal as the 2015 Careerbuilder Challenge Amateur Champion after play on Sunday.
  • The field size for the event is 156 professionals and 156 amateurs.

The tournament plays out over three courses: La Quinta Country Club, a tournament course since 1965, PGA WEST Nicklaus Private and PGA WEST Palmer Private. PGA WEST has been in the rotation since 1986. Silverrock Resort Course has been dropped.From 1960 to 1962, the tournament was played at Thunderbird Country Club and Tamarisk Country Club, both in Rancho Mirage, California; Bermuda Dunes Country Club in Bermuda Dunes, California; and Indian Wells Country Club in Indian Wells, California. Bermuda Dunes has been used every year of the event and Indian Wells every year until 2006.

In 1963, Eldorado Country Club in Indian Wells, California, replaced Thunderbird Country Club. La Quinta Country Club in La Quinta, California replaced Tamarisk Country Club from 1964 until 1968, but rejoined the event from 1969 to 1986, alternating with Eldorado Country Club.


Bob Hope added his name to the tournament in 1965 and became the Classic’s Chairman of the Board.

Starting in 1987, the classic courses began to be phased out of the vent. The PGA West in La Quinta got a permanent spot in the rota in 1997. Eldorado Country Club was dropped in 1990. In 2005, a local foundation gave the Classic Club in Palm Desert, Calif. to the tournament. It replaced Indian Wells the following year. The Hope now is the only event on the Tour that owns its own facility. Strangely, it was dropped from the rota in 2008 (over player concerns about high winds). The tournament now owns a course that isn’t used for the tournament. Strange.

The 2011 rota consisted of the PGA West (Palmer and Nicklaus Courses), La Quinta CC and Silver Rock Resort, all in La Quinta, California. Bermuda Dunes is not being used this year.

The tradition of choosing the tournament’s “Classic Girls” from among the area’s collegians began in those early years, with the earliest tournaments having a celebrity dubbed “Classic Queen.” The earliest titleholders included Debbie Reynolds, Jane Powell and Jill St. John. The queens of the 1970s included Barbara Eden and Lynda Carter.

The Classic’s biggest draw was—and continues to be—the celebrity Pro-Am competition which has attracted some of each era’s biggest celebrities. Of note was Dwight Eisenhower, who became the first president to play in a Tour event. History was made at the tournament in 1995 when the pro-am team of Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, and defending champion Scott Hoch teed up for the tournament’s opening round. The event marked the first time a sitting president – Clinton – had played during a PGA Tour event and perhaps the first time three presidents had ever played together.

Bill Clinton hosted from 2012 to 2017.

The first tournament was won by Arnold Palmer with a final score of 338, or 22 under par. Palmer would win the event five times:  1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1973.

More Hope Classic history: David Duval shot a 59 in the final round of the event in 1999. For a recount of the round, visit here.

A complete list of Careerbuider Challenge Winners follows:

YearPlayerScoreTo parMargin
CareerBuilder Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation
2018Jon Rahm266−22Playoff
2017Hudson Swafford268−201 stroke
2016Jason Dufner263−25Playoff
Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation
2015Bill Haas (2)266−221 stroke
2014Patrick Reed260−282 stroke
2013Brian Gay263−25Playoff
2012Mark Wilson264−242 strokes
Bob Hope Classic
2011Jhonattan Vegas333−27Playoff
2010Bill Haas330−301 stroke
2009Pat Perez327−333 strokes
Bob Hope Chrysler Classic
2008D. J. Trahan334−263 strokes
2007Charley Hoffman343−17Playoff
2006Chad Campbell335−253 strokes
2005Justin Leonard332−283 strokes
2004Phil Mickelson (2)330−30Playoff
2003Mike Weir330−302 strokes
2002Phil Mickelson330−30Playoff
2001Joe Durant324−364 strokes
2000Jesper Parnevik331−271 stroke
1999David Duval334−261 stroke
1998Fred Couples332−28Playoff
1997John Cook (2)327−331 stroke
1996Mark Brooks337−231 stroke
1995Kenny Perry335−251 stroke
1994Scott Hoch334−263 strokes
1993Tom Kite325−356 strokes
1992John Cook336−24Playoff
1991Corey Pavin (2)331−29Playoff
1990Peter Jacobsen339−211 stroke
1989Steve Jones343−17Playoff
1988Jay Haas338−222 strokes
1987Corey Pavin341−191 stroke
1986Donnie Hammond335−25Playoff
Bob Hope Classic
1985Lanny Wadkins333−27Playoff
1984John Mahaffey (2)340−20Playoff
Bob Hope Desert Classic
1983Keith Fergus335−25Playoff
1982Ed Fiori335−25Playoff
1981Bruce Lietzke335−252 strokes
1980Craig Stadler343−172 strokes
1979John Mahaffey343−171 stroke
1978Bill Rogers339−212 strokes
1977Rik Massengale337−236 strokes
1976Johnny Miller (2)344−163 strokes
1975Johnny Miller339−213 strokes
1974Hubert Green341−192 strokes
1973Arnold Palmer (5)343−172 strokes
1972Bob Rosburg344−161 stroke
1971Arnold Palmer (4)342−18Playoff
1970Bruce Devlin339−214 strokes
1969Billy Casper (2)345−153 strokes
1968Arnold Palmer (3)348−12Playoff
1967Tom Nieporte349−111 stroke
1966Doug Sanders349−11Playoff
1965Billy Casper348−121 stroke
Palm Springs Golf Classic
1964Tommy Jacobs353−7Playoff
1963Jack Nicklaus345−13Playoff
1962Arnold Palmer (2)342−173 strokes
1961Billy Maxwell345−142 strokes
Palm Springs Desert Golf Classic
1960Arnold Palmer338−203 strokes

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1 thought on “The Desert Classic Winners and History”

  1. Thank you for this article. I’m trying to find information on the history of the amateurs. My dad played in the Classic from ’77 to ’85 and shot a 66 at La Quinta in ’84. It was the tournament record for an amateur and I was hoping to find out if it still stands. My dad’s name was William E. McLaughlin. I have the official scorecard and photo of him with Arnold Palmer taken moments after my dad finished his historic round.
    Please respond when you can. I can tell you all about the “Jam Sessions” at Indian Wells and how I ferried celebrities from the 17th green to the 18th tee at Bermuda Dunes CC when I was a kid.
    Thank you,
    Tim McLaughlin
    (310) 905-2048
    [email protected]


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