This year will be the first time Mike Smith, head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, and Skip Holtz, head football coach for the University of South Florida, will take part in the American Century Championship on July 20-22. But the two are familiar with the celebrity golf tournament.
Holtz's name will sound very familiar, as his father Lou has played in the tournament in years past. Holtz also played a pro-am at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course last year during the week of the ACC. Matt Ryan, quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, has played in the ACC before and has chatted with his coach about it. Smith has also talked with former Falcons quarterback Steve Bartowski about the event. So while it may be their first ACC, both will be coached-up before coming to Tahoe.
"They know my golf game," Smith said. "They talked about, 'don't worry about being in the top half of the tournament, just go out and have some fun.'"
"I was told there's only eight to 10 people that have a chance to win it and the sooner I realize I'm not one of them, the more fun I'm going to have during the weekend," Holtz said.
What advice did Holtz receive from his dad?
"Just to relax, enjoy it and have fun. He's had opportunity to play in this tournament for years and years, and just rants and raves about it," the USF coach said.
According to Smith, "coaching is not adventitious to having a good golf game." The NFL coach, who Harrah's has as a 40-to-1 shot to win, said he's able to golf 15 to 20 times year, but mostly playing scramble format. Holtz, who is a 50-to-1 shot, said his golf game is up and down, but not very consistent. Both plan on placing bets on themselves, but will frame the betting slips instead of cashing them in.
"My golf game has no chance of beating the (top) guys. My odds are probably going down right now from 40-to-1 to 5000-to-1," Smith said.
Even though neither coach is planning to make a run for the ACC title, they plan on coming out and playing hard.
"We talk about our golf game, but we're all competitive guys," Smith said. "We want to play well in terms of our standards, I know that's what I want to do, I want to go out and play as well as I can play."
"We all kind of take a little bit of a backseat to the people that really have a chance to win the tournament, but I don't think any of us are going to go out and play that way, as we are all competitive people in a competitive business," Holtz said. "I know I have blisters on my hand that I haven't had in a long time getting ready to come out there and play. So I think everybody is going to get out there.
"There's different goals for different people, I know Tony Romo's may be to win it, some may be to finish in the first, top half, and some may be not to finish last. So I think everybody is gonna be competing in the game."
This time of year, both coaches are in the slower part of the football season, as spring camps are all wrapped up and training camps haven't started, offering them a chance to get out on the course.
"This works, really it works out from a timing standpoint tremendous. Like Mike said a minute ago, coaching is not real adventitious to having a real strong golf game because you don't have the opportunity to play the game very often," Holtz said. "There is a window in college football where we have a chance to play, kind of in the months of June and July, and when I get back from this tournament is when we'll start our hideaway meetings and then our players are going to report on Aug. 5."
"I'm excited about first getting this next week out of the way and having some fun up there, because we'll get right into it on (Thursday)." Smith said. "Our players will report for training camp. So we've got everything boxed up. We're ready to go."
And for Smith, his trip to Tahoe will not only be to play in the ACC - just mostly.
"My wife and I are celebrating our 20th anniversary this week. So we are really looking forward (to it)," he said. "I told her I would take her to Tahoe for our wedding anniversary. And then I am gonna play golf and she is probably gonna go play the slot machines. I'm really looking forward to it."
The celebrity golf tournament begins Tuesday at Edgewood and runs through Sunday.