Historically: Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, Bobby Jones
Truthfully: Ben Hogan, Fred Couples, Reteif Goosen, Curtis Strange.
Fantastically: Ben Hogan, Fred Couples, Brooks Koepka, Payne Stewart
For the sake of referencing somewhere to start, Ill begin with reaffirming your belief that, playing mini tour golf is a tough way to make a living.
From my own experience I understand how you came to the conclusions of just how hard it is for anyone to achieve golf excellence.
Speaking from deeper depths of my experience, I can say that's where our common ground stops.
Playing golf at its highest level isn't strictly about talent. Not about hitting 350 yard drives while shooting 29 for 9 holes against friends. Playing golf.at its highest levels is about belief.
You mention the impossibility of a 22 year old with a 5 handicap ever doing anything with their game.
I was a 27 year old weekend golfer (I didn't even carry a legitimate handicap index) when I realized I hated sales jobs and landed a job at a private club, a club that offered no restrictions to the course if I wasn't on the clock. Not long after I discovered local mini tours. After a number of painful years donating my tournament entry fees to the purses, I started playing good enough to finish in the money. Not long after I was actually winning.
My point being, there are a number of threads here, those of which detail the dreams of chasing golf greatness. Stories that offer and speak to the side of success.
By the simple fact that you referred to this event as "The Bob Hope" I am compelled to comment and share my two cents.
I grew up in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic era myself. When this, and the Crosby or AT&T in Monterey were the two flagship Pro-Am events. Ironically enough, it was this very season that I realized, the LPGA hosts a Pro-Am of their own, and it draws the names the PGA used to. I can't help but think it's due to the fact that, even though the pros tear up the desert courses, the ams have always struggled. Not to mention the players on the LPGA Tour are no longer the stereotypical "dikes on spikes." But rather, not only being pretty damn cute, have a game that is fun to watch.
I think the best thing that could have happened to this tour stop in the desert was picking up a sponsor as major as American Express. I say, because the big name Ams have clearly chosen the LPGA event, the PGA should drop the pro am portion and make it a full fledge tour stop held on the Stadium Course. Then leave the big draw pro am to Pebble Beach.