Charlie Reiter has been chalking up plenty of personal firsts in his golf career in the last 12 months. Next month the Palm Desert High School senior will do something even he wasn’t expecting yet – playing in his first PGA Tour event.
“Just like bewildered,” Reiter said of the news that the PGA Tour’s CareerBuilder Challenge has extended him one of the La Quinta event’s eight sponsor’s exemptions. “I couldn’t believe it.”
The CareerBuilder will be the 18-year-old Reiter’s second start in a professional event in three months. Reiter played in the Emirates Australian Open in Sydney over Thanksgiving weekend, making the cut and finishing tied for 65th. This time, Reiter won’t have to travel halfway around the world to play against top professional players like Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed or Jon Rahm.
Reiter will also be setting a precedent in the CareerBuilder, becoming the first amateur to receive an exemption into the professional division of the tournament in the event’s 59-year history.
“The tournament believes in supporting the local community in any way we can,” said Jeff Sanders, executive director of the CareerBuilder Challenge. “Charlie Reiter is a special player. He’s done some amazing things at a young age, including his performance at the Australian Open. We want to be part of him getting a start in his own backyard.”
Sanders said the tournament had to get approval from the PGA Tour to give a berth in the 156-player professional field to an amateur, and the tour granted the request.
"I just want to thank Jeff Sanders and (the tournament) for getting me in the event, in my hometown, my hometown tournament," Reiter said.
An amateur playing in a PGA Tour event, while not common, is not unheard of. Mickelson, the tournament ambassador for the CareerBuilder Challenge and a World Golf Hall of Famer, won the PGA Tour’s 1991 Northern Telecom Open in Tucson, Ariz. while still playing college golf at Arizona State. Mickelson is the most recent of six amateurs to have won on the PGA Tour.
The week after the CareerBuilder Challenge, University of Oregon sophomore Norman Xiong will compete in the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego on a sponsor’s invitation.
Reiter’s play has drawn comparison to the best golfers who ever played high school golf in the desert, including La Quinta High School’s Anthony Kim, who won the CIF-Southern Section title in 2001 and went on to win three PGA Tour events. As a sophomore in 2016, Reiter won the CIF-SCGA individual title, in essence the high school championship for the southern half of California, then finished fourth in the CIF state tournament. This year Reiter, known for his power off the tee that produces PGA Tour-caliber drives well over 300 yards, led the Palm Desert team to its first appearance in the state team championship.
Reiter, currently ranked 39th among junior boys in the country in the latest Golfweek magazine rankings, also played in the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Junior Amateur national championships in 2017 despite battling a sore back, before playing in the Australian Open. The Australian berth came from Reiter winning a junior tournament in San Diego in December of 2016, so he knew a year in advance he was in that field. This time Reiter has just three weeks to prepare for the CareerBuilder event, Jan. 18-21 at PGA West and La Quinta Country Club.
“It was good kind of getting the feel with it, playing with pros,” Reiter said of his Australian Open start. “It shouldn’t feel any different here, really. It should be really fun with the amateurs up at Bighorn (Golf Club in Palm Desert) who supported me.”
More: Scott McCarron, Charlie Reiter, Tyler Crawford head list of top desert golfers in 2017
Reiter said he first heard about the possibility of a CareerBuilder exemption while playing in the recent pro-scratch tournament at The Plantation Country Club in Indio, an annual event that draws some PGA Tour players as well as local pros and top amateurs.
“Chris Evans last year, who worked in the bag round at the Plantation, won that pro-scratch and we gave him an exemption,” Sanders said. “And he put his spot to good use, making $14,000, which helped him in his career.”
Reiter is familiar with the courses at PGA West in the CareerBuilder tournament, the Stadium Course and the Nicklaus Tournament Course, having won his age group in the Golf Channel Amateur Tour when he was 10. He said he doesn’t know much about La Quinta Country Club but can learn about the course in the next three weeks.
Reiter said between now and the tournament he will just work hard on his game.
“Probably just dialing in my game, getting everything to where I’m comfortable to performance at where I should be at,” he said. “It’s going to be a little different. But I just want to keep the same mentality. Just keep it fun, but I want to play well.”
La Quinta, CA – Local high school star Charlie Reiter has received a sponsor exemption to compete in next month’s CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta. Reiter, who is committed to play golf next year for the University of Southern California, will compete as an amateur in order to maintain his collegiate eligibility.
Reiter is currently a senior at Palm Desert High School and made headlines recently when, at just age 17, he was one of just four Americans to make the cut at the Australian Open in November. As a junior, Reiter won the CIF/SCGA Southern California Regional Championship earning him a spot in the California State High School Championship where he went on to finish in 14th place. He also led his high school team to their first ever CIF state tournament where they finished in 6th place this past spring.
Reiter qualified to play in the US Amateur Championship and US Junior Amateur Championship and is currently ranked 39th on the Golfweek Junior Amateur rankings. He has won 86 amateur and junior tournaments.
“We were very impressed by Charlie’s play recently making the cut at age 17 in the Australian Open. His game held up against some of the top players in the world including Jordan Spieth,” said Jeff Sanders, CareerBuilder Challenge Executive Director. “Charlie is a very special player with local ties to the Coachella Valley making him the perfect pick. We hope the local community will come out and support him in a big way!”
“Thank you to Desert Classic Charities and CareerBuilder for inviting me to play in my first PGA TOUR event,” said Reiter. “I am very grateful for the opportunity and excited to compete against the top players on the PGA TOUR in front of my friends, family and all the golf fans in the desert.”
Charlie will join a very strong field with Major Champions, Masters Champions and PGA TOUR winners including Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, John Daly, Patrick Reed, Mike Weir, John Rahm, Brandt Snedeker, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner and many others.
Daily tickets to the CareerBuilder Challenge are only $30 and include admission to the golf tournament, Concert Series presented by H. N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, and three on course greenside hospitality venues including the all-new 8,000 square foot Vons Fan Pavilion located on the 18th green.
The CareerBuilder Challenge Concert Series presented by the H. N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation features two nights of rock and roll music with the popular Huey Lewis and the News on Friday January 19th, followed by Goo Goo Dolls on Saturday after golf. The Concerts will be held on the driving range at PGA WEST Stadium Course and are expected to start at 4:30 PM on Friday and Saturday.
For more information on the CareerBuilder Challenge and CareerBuilder Challenge Concert Series presented by H. N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation and to purchase tickets, please visit www.CBChallenge.com.
The golf tournament that built a hospital.
For years that was the way many people looked at what was called the Bob Hope Desert Classic, now the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Proceeds from the golf tournament helped with the very beginnings of the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage in the 1960s, and for years the tournament delivered $1 million a year to the hospital that was built on land donated by Bob Hope himself. But as the tournament nears its 59th playing in January, that golf tournament’s charity identification is changing again.
The money for Eisenhower Medical Center was a big connection for the tournament to the desert community for decades. But as the tournament has seen its charitable contributions fall in the last decade, first because of the loss of Chrysler as a sponsor and then as an arrangement with the Clinton Foundation decreased local charity giving, Eisenhower Medical Center saw less and less money from the event.
Instead, the tournament continued to distribute money to about 40 local charities. Those charities ranged from Boys and Girls Clubs to addiction and recovery centers to senior services.
As more and more PGA Tour events focus their charitable giving to a single recipient (think St. Jude’s for the Memphis tournament or the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies for the Arnold Palmer Invitational), it was the charity that gave an identity to the tournament.
That has been missing at the CareerBuilder Challenge for a few years with Eisenhower increasingly out of the picture. So Desert Classic Charities and new tournament operator Lagardere Sports are pushing for a new identity staring next month.
“This year we have made a change,” said tournament executive director Jeff Sanders at the event’s media day this week at PGA West. “We are going to focus on kids in the Coachella Valley. So children’s charities are the focal point of the giving for the first time. We have a little theme we are working on called Golf Fore Kids. And so that’s our focus right now.”
The hope is that the CareerBuilder can now be recognized for a single charitable concept, rather than the wide net the event has been casting in the last few years. Yes, it means that some charities that have been getting money from the tournament will not receive the $20,000 or $25,000 next year. You hope that charities find a way to make up the void.
But focusing on children also dovetails with the Phil and Amy Mickelson Charitable Foundation. Phil Mickelson is the tournament’s ambassador and two-time desert winner as well as a World Golf Hall of Famer. The foundation focused its interest primarily on supporting a variety of youth and family initiatives.
For all of the issues the tournament has had in recent years trying to keep charitable donations at the level they were 10 years ago, the event is still approaching $60 million in donations since the event began in 1960.
“That’s a lot of money. That’s an unbelievable amount of money,” Sanders said. “Most tournaments don’t last five or six years, let alone 60. It’s been a wonderful way to give back here in the community, to have a golf tournament like this.”
Of course, how much those charities receive is the challenge behind the changes coming to the tournament this year, with concerts, new hospitality venues and a focus on an overall fan experience, not just on golf. The more people who buy tickets, the more money that goes to charity.
“At the end of the day, we want to increase our charitable donations from the tournament year after year,” Sanders said. “And we plan to do that.”
Written by Larry Bohannan, posted by The Desert Sun: http://www.desertsun.com/story/sports/golf/careerbuilder/2017/12/16/careerbuilder-challenge-golf-tournament-changes-charity-focus-children/957497001/
La Quinta, Calif. – Desert Classic Charities, the charitable entity that has operated the Coachella Valley’s PGA TOUR event since its inception in 1960, has reached an agreement with the PGA TOUR and Lagardère Sports for the global sports agency to manage all aspects of the CareerBuilder Challenge PGA TOUR event. The Board of Directors at Desert Classic Charities will continue to oversee the charitable donations made to local non-profits from the proceeds of the tournament.
The event will be managed by the Lagardère Sports Golf Events division, which has a successful track record of growing and adding value to professional golf tournaments. Along with this new role with the CareerBuilder Challenge, Lagardère Sports also manages the Safeway Open PGA TOUR event in Napa, Calif., and a series of Web.com Tour and charity golf tournaments. The agency has been successful at increasing charitable contributions for its tournaments, including generating $125 million for charity through its golf events over the past 28 years.
Lagardère Sports previously served as management consultant firm for the 2017 CareerBuilder Challenge and brought 42-time PGA TOUR champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member Phil Mickelson on board as Tournament Ambassador. Mickelson will continue his role as Ambassador, and expand his involvement in the 2018 event. Jeff Sanders, Executive Vice President of Golf Events at Lagardère Sports, will be the new Executive Director of the CareerBuilder Challenge. Sanders also serves as the Executive Director of the Safeway Open.
“We are honored to be named the management company for the CareerBuilder Challenge and look forward to taking an active role in the future of this iconic event by working together with the team at Desert Classic Charities and the PGA TOUR,” Sanders said. “As a former Bob Hope Desert Classic PGA TOUR participant, and resident of La Quinta, this is a dream come true for me. We look forward to implementing our golf entertainment model at PGA WEST, and enhancing the tournament experience for the fans, players, sponsors, and volunteers.”
The 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge will be played January 17-21 in La Quinta. A field of 156 amateurs and 156 PGA TOUR professionals will tee it up on three courses – the Stadium and Jack Nicklaus Tournament Courses at PGA WEST, and La Quinta Country Club. Tickets to the tournament will be available in October. For more information, please visit www.CareerBuilderChallenge.com.
Written by Blake Arthur, posted by KESQ:
La Quinta, CA – The CareerBuilder Challenge, Lagardere Sports and Desert Classic Charities announced an impressive lineup of early PGA TOUR player commitments to the 2018 field at Media Day today at PGA West. This year’s field features a blend of major champions, past winners of the event and rising superstars all competing for a purse of $5,900,000 and 500 FedExCup points.
World Golf Hall of Famer and 42-time PGA TOUR winner Phil Mickelson headlines the field in La Quinta once again this year. Twice a winner here in 2002 and 2004 – Mickelson has played well in two starts this season finishing T3 at the Safeway Open presented by Chevron followed by a T15 showing at the WGC-HSBC Champions.
Also in the field this year is Mickelson’s fellow Arizona State alum Jon Rahm. After his breakthrough win at Torrey Pines last February, Rahm has ascended to fourth in the world golf rankings and will look to build off his T34 finish here last season.
With 8 wins to his credit, Brandt Snedeker is among the notables slated to play here next month where he will make his return after dealing with rib injuries for the bulk of last season. Past champions in the field include Jason Dufner, Jhonattan Vegas, defending champion Hudson Swafford and Bill Haas – twice a winner of the CareerBuilder Challenge.
This year’s field has gained a few notable storylines after issuing sponsor exemptions to the colorful John Daly, Maverick McNealy and Mike Weir. Coming off his first made cut on the PGA TOUR since 2015 at the Safeway Open, Daly has been a fan favorite on TOUR for the better part of two decades.
On the other end of the experience spectrum, McNealy is in his first season as a professional after a stellar amateur career where he became the highest ranked American. His resume includes 11 collegiate wins – tying him with Tiger Woods and Patrick Rodgers for the all-time mark at Stanford. McNealy made the cut in his professional debut at the Safeway Open in October and will play primarily on the Web.com Tour in 2018.
Weir returns to the desert fifteen years after his 2003 victory at the CareerBuilder Challenge (then the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic). Later that spring he famously went on to win The Masters in a dramatic playoff. Fellow Canadians Mac Hughes and Adam Hadwin will join Weir in the field – Hadwin carded a 59 in his third round at La Quinta Country Club becoming just the ninth player in PGA TOUR history to do so.
With one of the deepest fields in recent memory, the CareerBuilder Challenge will have the golf world’s attention as the world’s best return with a big 2018 season on their mind.
Daily tickets to the CareerBuilder Challenge are on sale now and include admission to the golf tournament plus three on course greenside hospitality venues including the all-new 8,000 square foot Vons Fan Pavilion located on the 18th green.
The CareerBuilder Challenge Concert Series presented by the H. N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation features two nights of rock and roll music with the popular Huey Lewis and the News on Friday January 19th, followed by Goo Goo Dolls on Saturday after golf. The Concerts are expected to start at 4:30 PM on Friday and Saturday. Daily tickets are only $30 and include admission to the concerts following golf. Concerts will be held on the driving range of PGA WEST’s Stadium Course.
For more information on the CareerBuilder Challenge and CareerBuilder Challenge Concert Series presented by H. N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation and to purchase tickets, please visit www.CBChallenge.com.
For Hudson Swafford, winning the CareerBuilder Challenge last January gave him the coveted invitation to the Masters. But Swafford is looking forward to another perk of the CareerBuilder title.
"Everybody says with your first win, you look forward to Augusta,” Swafford said via teleconference Wednesday at media day for the CareerBuilder event. “But everyone that has won multiple times always looks forward to going back to Maui (the Tournament of Champions).”
Swafford will play in the Tournament of Champions for the first time the first week of January, just two weeks before he returns to La Quinta to defend a title for the first time in his five-year PGA Tour career. Swafford will be one of 156 pros teams with 156 amateurs during the four-day, $5.9 million event Jan. 18-21 on three desert courses.
Swafford’s first tour win, a one-shot victory over Adam Hadwin in the rare rainy conditions of the 2017 tournament, did earn him the Masters start as well as starts in other tournaments. The 500 FedEx Cup points Swafford earned in La Quinta helped him make a run to the third leg of the four-tournament FedEx Cup playoffs. But it is becoming a winner on the tour that was the highlight of his year.
“It was incredible. It was an incredible experience,” Swafford said. “Birdieing three of the last four down the stretch, it was kind of a surreal finish. A dream come true kind of deal.”
Swafford will be joined in the field by tournament ambassador and two-time CareerBuilder winner Phil Mickelson and Jon Rahm, the No. 4 player on the official World Golf Rankings. On Wednesday tournament officials announced that 2015 winner Jason Dufner has committed to the field, and that the tournament has extended three of its eight sponsor’s exemptions. Those go to two-time major winner and now PGA Tour Champions player John Daly, tour rookie Maverick McNealy and 2003 CareerBuilder and Masters winner Mike Weir.
Daly has a long history in the tournament, dating back to his debut in 1992. Weir is not only a past champion of the event but also is a member at The Vintage Club in Indian Wells as well as being popular with Canadian fans. McNealy is a first-year pro who was the No. 1 amateur in the world during his time at Stanford and whose parents own a home in the desert.
Other players already announced include past champions in the desert Bill Haas, Chad Campbell, Jhonattan Vegas, Mark Wilson and D.J. Trahan, major championship winners Angel Cabrera and Lee Janzen and past Ryder Cup players Kevin Chappell and Brant Snedeker.
Tournament executive director Jeff Sanders said the tournament is on schedule to debut its new tournament model including golf, concerts on Friday and Saturday, no upgraded tickets for any hospitality area and more. The new initiatives are designed to bring more people from the desert to the golf course.“We are going to have some fun. We are going to bring everyone in.
We are going to treat everyone like a sponsor,” Sanders said. “We got rid of all cover charges, wrist bands, all of that. It’s gone. This event is for everyone.
“It’s very important that we bring the community back in a big, big way to the golf tournament,” he added.
Sanders added that the event will still focus on the top players in the world, but will offer more to attract casual or non-golf fans. That includes the concerts featuring Huey Lewis and the News and The Goo Goo Dolls.
“The idea here is to go to the tournament, watch your favorite player, end up going to one of the greenside venues and then stick around for the music,” Sanders said. “So our focus here again is fun, make a day out of it and let’s hope we have a lot more people here.”
Written by Larry Bohannan, posted by The Desert Sun: http://www.desertsun.com/story/sports/golf/careerbuilder/2017/12/13/hudson-swafford-relishes-perks-came-careerbuilder-win/950619001/
Change is the Challenge Jeff Sanders and Lagardère Sports reset the CareerBuilder Challenge as a fan-friendlier golf festival
Three new on-course, open-to-everyone hospitality venues, offering four-star food and drink from favorite local restaurants.
Two après-golf concerts of 1980s rock and sing-along chart-toppers from the Goo Goo Dolls and Huey Lewis and the News.
And aggressive budget-friendly ticket pricing.
These and other enhancements of the fan experience signal that the CareerBuilder Challenge is undergoing a makeover for 2018 — one that Jeff Sanders, the tournament’s new executive director, hopes will have patrons applauding.
Different, figures Sanders, is what it takes for the PGA Tour’s annual visit to the greater Palm Springs area to thrive in today’s ultra-competitive sports and entertainment marketplace.
“There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be a great golf event here in January,” says Sanders, a La Quinta resident whose company, Lagardère Sports, took over management of all tournament operations last September, “with the best weather in the country, three photogenic courses, and 156 of the world’s best golfers.”
The history of the CareerBuilder Challenge stretches back to 1960, when Arnold Palmer won the inaugural Palm Springs Desert Golf Classic at Tamarisk Country Club. Sanders himself played what was then called the Bob Hope Desert Classic during his own stint as a journeyman Tour pro. (His “NO WINS” license plate told the story of his struggles.)
“But if you’re not a major,” Sanders admits, “or leading into a major or a World Golf Championship event with international stature, how do make your event work?”
The Lagardère model, based on running 300 tournaments over the past three decades, including the tremendously successful Safeway Open in Napa as well as several Web.com Tour events, is focused on providing ticket buyers with a cool four-day “golf festival” within the setting of a 72-hole stroke-play competition.
“Here in the desert, you had the ‘Bob Hope and his celebrity friends’ model, then kind of no model, and now there’s our entertainment model, our festival model,” Sanders says. “So we think the answer to my question is: You make it work by what you’re seeing here.”
What you’ll see is specifically intended for the Coachella Valley’s demographic – the average age of ticket buyers at last year’s Challenge, for example, was 60.
This year, the targeted enhancements of the fan experience start at the gate, with an all-inclusive daily ticket priced at $30. No add-on cover charges, no pricey upgrades. For thirty bucks, you’re on the course and into the inviting new hospitality venues.
You’ll find those venues at the PGA West Stadium course, where the final-round action unfolds.
There’s the 8,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor Vons Fan Pavilion behind the 18th green. It will feature food and drink from favorite local eateries like Las Casuelas La Quinta and Chophouse at the Jackalope Ranch. (FYI, the weekend football games will, of course, be shown on multiple screens throughout the pavilion.)
Then there’s the Michelob Ultra Beers Fore Birdies outpost. Overlooking the 16th green and the tee box of 17, it will serve up half-price beer every time a Tour pro birdies – or, of course, aces – “Alcatraz,” which is what the par-3 17th, with its island green, is nicknamed.
And finally, there’s the Casamigos Club 17, located greenside at the 17th, where Casamigos Tequila cocktails will be the featured tipple.
As for what marking director Ryan Fowler quips is “the rock that rolls the golf,” there’s Huey Lewis and the News (“The Power of Love,” “Heart of Rock and Roll”) on Jan. 19, and the following day, the Goo Goo Dolls, whose stadium-anthem hits include “Iris,” named by Billboard as the biggest pop radio ballad of the last 20 years.
Meanwhile, don’t forget, there’ll be lots of great golf to watch. This year’s field, which Sanders hints may include a couple of last-minute major names, is headed by tournament ambassador Phil Mickleson, whose local roots are at the Madison Club. Three entrants have already won in this wraparound 2017-18 PGA Tour season: Brendan Steele (Safeway Open), Ryan Armour (Sanderson Farms Championship), and Patton Kizzire (OHL Classic at Mayakoba).
“Here in the desert, you had the ‘Bob Hope and his celebrity friends’ model, then kind of no model, and now there’s our entertainment model, our festival model. So we think the answer to my question is: You make it work by what you’re seeing here.”
-Jeff Sanders, executive director, Careerbuilder Challenge
Plus there’s a fivesome with top-25 world rankings: Jon Rahm (4), Paul Casey (14), Patrick Reed (21), Kevin Kisner (25), and Xander Schauffle (24), who was the Tour’s Rookie of the Year for 2016-17. Also among the younger-guns, Sam Saunders: Arnold Palmer’s grandson will be hoping to improve on last year’s missed cut, as he returns to an event the King did more than any other golfer to champion.
With the dawning of a new year, an exciting new chapter looks to be opening for a desert mainstay with a storied six-decades’ tradition to build on.
“At the point of change,” reflects Sanders, “there’s a one-time opportunity to improve. And we’re going to make the most of that opportunity, I guarantee you.”
Written by Thomas Meagher, posted by Palm Springs Life: https://www.palmspringslife.com/careerbuilder-challenge-enhances-fan-experience/