Our TV in the 60s and 70s wasn't tuned into golf tournaments very often. The NFL reigned supreme in the sports arena with a smattering of baseball. My Dad ruled the television as an occasional benevolent dictator and questioning his choices wasn't an option. The one event where golf saw some screen time though was the Bob Hope Desert Classic. The attendance of the great stars of the day was the draw for Dad, the golf was secondary. It gave us a peek Bing Crosby, Kirk Douglas, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jack Benny, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jackie Gleason, Desi Arnaz, and countless other stars. It was the one occasion you could view these icons in the day light. Most photos of them were in nightclubs and their TV shows were spectacularly lit. It was a rare chance to see them as regular folk, bad swings and all.
The players at the Hope in it's heyday were the creme de la creme as well. Nicklaus, Palmer, Casper, Miller, and Trevino dot the list as previous winners. Arnie's the new "host". George Lopez was unceremoniously dumped by the tournament in a phone call. Lopez had worked his tail off in promoting and hosting. He brought some of the old flavor to the tournament. It's their right to change horses, but the way they did it was classless. Besides, Arnie has his own tournament already. I love Arnie as much as the next person, but fun and frivolity don't exactly come to mind the way hosts were regarded in the old days. I suppose the passing of Bob Hope has made the host's role near impossible.
Even the politicos have been downgraded. The likes of former presidents Eisenhower and Ford used to grace the fairways of the Hope. This year presents Dan Quayle. Boggles the mind. Bo Jackson, Yogi Berra, and celebrity golf mainstays Alice Cooper and Huey Lewis head the pack. I wonder if I'd have bought as many Alice Cooper albums at the time if I knew he'd end up as a celebrity golf junkie?
My intention isn't to demean today's players or celebrities, it's just that this tournament doesn't have the allure of yesteryear. None of the world's top players are involved. Anthony Kim withdrew due to injury, so the leaderboard reads like a Nationwide event from a few years ago. Pat Perez leads after the 2nd round at -20. Briny Baird is two back at -18, and David Berganio Jr. owns 3rd at -17. Evidently you'll have to go lower than Jimmy Hoffa to win this thing. Get out the calculators.
This is the 50th anniversary of the Hope. If there's a clubhouse in heaven I'm sure there would be the unmistakable sound of glasses clinking. Nothing stays the same forever. Too bad.