This year, our valley’s esteemed PGA TOUR golf tournament, The American Express, celebrates 65 years. The tournament originally launched in 1960 as the Palm Springs Golf Classic. It has seen its share of ups and down over the decades but has grown to become one of sport’s best special events, a nomination proudly received in 2023.

GRAIL CEO Bob Ragusa and 2023 Champion David Toms. (Photo by The Galleri Classic/Scott Avra)

While many factors have changed over the years, one consistent remains: the tournament’s charitable contributions to our community. In fact, in that very first year, while the Golf Classic struggled to pay its debt, Arnold Palmer and other board members decided to hold a luncheon at the El Mirador Hotel to give proceeds to local charities. The success of that luncheon and the enthusiastic response from the community convinced the board that the tournament should continue.

With $1 million donated in 2023, the tournament officially surpassed $65 million in charitable contributions. Donations were made through the event’s foundation, Impact Through Golf, to 16 local charities with a focus on legacy projects serving the entire valley in areas of health and wellness, youth sports, family support, education and homelessness.

“It takes a village to execute our high standard of charitable giving to our local desert beneficiaries through our tournament, and we are appreciative of the shared vision and partnership we have with our title sponsor, American Express,” said Foundation Chairman Frank Marzano. “We acknowledge all of our committed sponsors, local business partners, volunteers and fans as the collective which enables our tournament to raise funds and thrive in serving the Coachella Valley.”

2023 recipients include Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Desert; Boys & Girls Club of Cathedral City; Boys & Girls Club of Coachella Valley; Boys & Girls Club of Palm Springs; Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine; Desert Sands Educational Foundation; Family YMCA of the Desert; First Tee – Coachella Valley;
FIND Food Bank; Galilee Center; Girlfriend Factor; Hunter Lopez Memorial Foundation;  Jewish Family Service of the Desert; John F. Kennedy Foundation/Ophelia Project; Martha’s Village and Kitchen; and Pueblo Unido.

 The American Express will take place January 18 – 21 this year and is certain to generate the same level of excitement and community support. 

The American Express isn’t the only tournament making an impact in our area. The Galleri Classic, now in its second year, not only contributes financially, but through innovative health opportunities as well. On the PGA TOUR Champions, the event features the seasoned players we all know and love and is named after title sponsor GRAIL’s multi-cancer early detection blood test. 

The Galleri test is the first in the growing category to come to market and is changing the way doctors and patients identify, address and treat cancer. Thus, it is fitting that their tournament’s charitable giving focuses on organizations that support patients through all phases of their cancer journey.

From a simple blood draw, the Galleri test can identify if you have one of more than 50 cancers and where that cancer is located. 

“We see The Galleri Classic as much more than just a golf tournament,” GRAIL CEO Bob Ragusa shared last year. “At age 50 and older, PGA TOUR Champions players likely have personal experiences with cancer and can use this platform to inspire both their peers and fans to be more proactive about their health.” 

Ragusa adds that the company chose the Coachella Valley sponsorship because of our demographics and tradition of excellence in health care. Since last year’s inaugural tournament, the company has begun working with regional providers including the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Desert Regional Medical Center and Halo Diagnostics which uses it as part of their multiomics approach to identifying cancers.

“In the U.S., we have testing for only five types of cancer,” states HALO’s Director of Neuroradiology Christopher Hancock, MD. “We recommend the Galleri test to all patients over 50 for its efficacy in identifying other cancers, as well as for younger patients who demonstrate risk factors.”

The Galleri Classic returns to Mission Hills Country Club March 25-31 and will once again benefit Desert Cancer Foundation, Eisenhower Health, Hanson House, Pendleton Foundation, the American Cancer Society’s local affiliate and Shay’s Warriors Life After Cancer.

Whether you volunteer at these spectacular events or attend as a spectator, feel good in knowing that your participation is making a difference in our community as golf in our valley continues to give back.

Editorial by Desert Health Publisher Lauren Del Sarto. For more information, visit and (Front page photo by The American Express/Kyle McCune)

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