ZURICH CLASSIC OF NEW ORLEANS
As one of the oldest continually running events on the PGA Tour, the Zurich Classic dates back to 1938, when the inaugural event was held at the City Park Golf Course in New Orleans, La. The first winner of the tournament was Harry Cooper, and the Zurich Classic became a true annual event in 1958, and has since become one of the most prominent events in New Orleans professional sports. The event brings in an estimated $30 million each year to the city of New Orleans, $16 million in annual television exposure and is broadcast in more than 100 countries around the world. Zurich Financial Services became the event's main sponsor in 2005, and has helped the Zurich Classic grow into a major highlight on the PGA Tour calendar.
The tournament has been played at a variety of courses over the years, including Lakewood Country Club, English Turn Golf and Country Club and the City Park Golf Club, but the event has since shifted to the beautiful TBC Louisiana course located in Avondale, La. The course is ranked #4 on GolfWeek's "Best Courses You Can Play" list, and is open to the public year-round. TBC Louisiana was designed by renowned architect and former PGA golfer Pete Dye, who also received assistance from PGA Tour players like Steve Elkington and Kelly Gibson.
The course has taken cues from many prominent courses all over the country by embracing the natural landscape and limiting its impact on the environment. The golf course stretches over 250 acres of wetlands with myriad water obstacles and difficult par-4 holes that have proven to be very challenging for the world's best golfers. TBC Louisiana is also a member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary program, which incorporates a series of eco-friendly improvements to allow the course to make the least amount of environmental impact on local wildlife and the surrounding landscape.
The Zurich Classic is also known for its many charitable contributions, as Zurich Financial Services has partnered with the Fore!Kids Foundation to raise more than $8 million for children in need throughout southeastern Louisiana since the company took over the event sponsorship in 2005. The event also holds the distinction of being the first professional sporting event that was televised after the tragic events of Hurricane Katrina in 2006, and many of the tournament's participants donated their winnings to hurricane relief efforts.
Over the years, the Zurich Classic has been the locale for many huge moments in PGA Tour history, and many of the sport's biggest names, including Vijay Singh, Billy Casper, Arnold Palmer, David Toms, Davis Love III and Byron Nelson, have taken the top spot in the rankings.