BARRINGTON – There’s always something so reassuring when an event such as the CVS Caremark Charity Classic concludes on this note, “See you next year.”
The words – echoed by Bristol native and co-host Billy Andrade shortly after the winning tandem of Steve Stricker and Bo Van Pelt took their bows on the 18th green at Rhode Island Country Club – helped in providing reassurance that the CVS event will feature a 16th installment.
Perhaps in an attempt to start locking up participants for 2014, Andrade joked that Stricker and Van Pelt need to provide true justice to the crown by returning to Rhode Island for an encore performance.
“I keep saying this all the time. I don’t think we ever set a goal of ‘Let’s do this for four or six years,’” remarked Brad Faxon after his round Tuesday afternoon. “Let’s just keep doing it and if we keep giving money away and we get people to come out and watch, we’re winning.”
Faxon noted that the auction that accompanied Monday night’s gala event at the Providence Biltmore was such a success that the various charities stand to reap even more benefits. Obviously giving back to the community has always been the primary mission of the CVS Classic. To quantify success from strictly a monetary standpoint doesn’t exactly begin to cover all the bases.
In separate interviews, CVS Tournament Director Greg Costello and Eileen Howard Boone, the tournament’s chairwoman in addition to serving as the company’s senior vice president of corporate communications and community relations, spoke about the significance of synergy as it relates to making sure all of the parts are moving in the same direction.
“The important elements are our players, our sponsors and non-profits. The combination of all those things is what makes this event special and why we’ve been able to give back $16 million over the last 14 years,” said Boone.
Added Costello, “It’s not just Peter Jacobsen Sports. There are five full-time people who work on this event year round, but we could not do this without CVS Caremark’s help. They are every emotional about this event and are proud of what it’s done.
“I know there are over 600 volunteers for this event. On top of that, there are a couple hundred people who get it done. There are over 400 sponsors that contribute so we’re able to put on this show that you’ve seen over the past few days. It’s just a huge, huge undertaking and the end result is just so positive.”
The folks responsible for staging the CVS Classic have made sure to stay current to the times by adding a new wrinkle or element each year. Whether it was the presence of Bubba Watson’s BW1 hovercraft golf cart alongside the 18th fairway, or seeing numerous youngsters mimic Rickie Fowler’s fashion sense with the Puma gear, looking for fresh ways to connect with fans has always been at the top of the list.
“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of every year coming up with something new,” said Boone, who noted the appearance of NBC Sports golf announcer Dan Hicks for the annual clinic that takes place prior to the two-day CVS tournament getting underway.
Perhaps the one area where this annual golf gathering has come a long way is reflective in the true reason why spectators flock to RICC – the golfers themselves. This year’s field proved a “Who’s Who” of recognizable names, from noted PGA Tour stars in Watson and Fowler, to a quartet of females headlined by World Golf Hall of Famers Annika Sorenstam and Julie Inkster, to a pair of decorated veterans who have combined to win five major championships in Fuzzy Zoeller and Nick Price.
“When this started out [in 1999], Brad and Billy were on the PGA Tour. Now Brad’s on the Champions Tour and Billy’s soon to be, but I think the mix will stay,” noted Costello, who has been associated with 12 of the 15 CVS Classics. “Both guys have a finger on the pulse on who’s hot at the time and who’s going to work well with the crowd, because this is a fan-friendly event.”
Looking ahead, Boone noted that the groundwork in preparation for next year’s CVS Classic will be laid this September. Her favorite moment of the entire production comes in December when she sees the smiles on the beneficiaries’ faces.
“It’s a very big event for us because we take that commitment to the non-profits seriously,” said Boone.
As far as locking down dates for the 2014 edition, Costello mentioned that all the particulars will be ironed out once the schedules for the PGA, LPGA and Champions are released.
“It’s such a tradition and a huge team effort that you can’t say enough,” he said.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03