There might be something cooler than listening to PGA golfer John Daly sing the blues from a golf cart on the 8th hole of the Newport Beach Country Club but probably not. It’s the spontaneous moments — a chance to tell Jose Maria Olazabal “nice swing” or watch Fred Couples practice his putts — that make this week’s Toshiba Classic endlessly enjoyable.
The tournament is one of the largest annual events in Orange County, bringing 200 sponsors, 1,000 volunteers and 80,000 spectators March 7 through March 11 to the manicured greens of Newport Beach Country Club. Produced by Hoag Charity Sports, a supporting organization of the Hoag Hospital Foundation, the Toshiba Classic benefits Hoag Institutes and other local charities like Hoag’s Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center. In total, Toshiba Classic generates more than $1 million annually for community causes.
This year marks Toshiba’s 20-year partnership with Hoag Hospital, and in these two decades the Toshiba Classic raised more than $20 million for Orange County youth, making it the most philanthropic event of the PGA tour. The Toshiba Classic Scholarship Program has provided over $324,000 in scholarships and support to local schools and over $1 million worth of Toshiba laptops to deserving local high schools and seniors.
“We appreciate the overwhelming support from all our sponsors and volunteers over the years,” representatives from Toshiba said in an official statement. “Everyone who has been involved with the Toshiba Classic should be very proud to be giving back to the health of our community.”
The reason, however, this tournament garners so much money year after year isn’t just because it’s a coveted mainstay on the PGA Tour. For its attendees, the Toshiba Classic offers unprecedented access to some of the PGA’s most beloved senior players. Wednesday and Thursday’s Classic Pro-Am brought together amateur golfers from Newport Beach Country Club with the likes of Vijay Singh, David Frost and Tom Pernice Jr., the current No. 1 player on the PGA Tour Champion’s leaderboard. Hundreds watched as the pros teed off with familiar faces of Newport beach.
And of course, there was John Daly, not quite ranked among top competitors — though he consistently smashed the ball down the fairway — but a favorite for golf fans. Daly is one of the most colorful characters to ever play the sport, and not just because his pants are as colorful as a Christmas tree in late December.
“This fitness thing is blown out of proportion,” he once famously said. “What am I going to do on a treadmill – smoke a cigarette and drink a diet Coke?”
On Thursday, cigarettes and coke in hand, he traveled from hole to hole with a guitar player, who played B.B. King and blues guitar for the crowd like the unofficial Toshiba Classic troubadour. Daly had by far the largest following, a throng of dozens waited for him to deliver classic one-liners between shots.
“If I could play like that I wouldn’t be golfing,” Daly told his guitar player after a quick rendition of “The Thrill is Gone.” He laughed heartily, picked up his driver then whacked the ball down the green.
For ticket information or additional details about the Toshiba classic, click here.