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The man behind the ACC

Joe Proudman / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Joe Proudman / Tahoe Daily Tribune

STATELINE, Nev. – Mike Milthorpe was there when the pond near the 18th green earned the name Lake Laimbeer. He’s seen Wagner win two American Century Championships. He witnessed some people cash in when Mario Lemieux’s 1998 celebrity golf win proved to be a well-placed bet at the casino.

He’s seen it all at the ACC, and that’s because he’s the man that makes it go.

Milthorpe has been the celebrity golf tournament director since 1992, and the two years before that he helped develop rules and regulations for it. He spends nearly two months of the year away in South Lake Tahoe, away from his Daytona Beach, Fla., home, and doesn’t often get out of his trailer near the ninth green at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

“Obviously I get to enjoy the view out of here; it’s not a bad place to work out of,” he said. “(I am) pretty much confined to Edgewood. It’s between going from Edgewood to Harrah’s Casino, cause that’s where I stay.”

With the ACC so close, Milthorpe will spend up to 16 hours per day at the course preparing for the largest summer event on the South Shore. Phil Weidinger, who handles some of the public relations for the event, has worked with Milthorpe for more than 20 years.

“He juggles a million things at once, he really does. And he’s able to pull them all off,” Weidinger said. “You couldn’t put it on without a guy like him. With his experience and his tournament savvy, he knows what people need, what they’re looking for and how to deliver.”

After 23 years leading the tourney, it’s still easy for the former Southern Mississippi golfer to come back.

“I enjoy the event,” Milthorpe said. “It’s sort of something I helped build, put together. It’s a nice place to come in July for the weather, versus Florida. In the last five years, the event has really started to grow.”

“There’s more sponsors. We have more spectators that are coming year after year,” he said. “There are more boaters that are bringing their boats out to 17 and making it a weekend. There’s a lot more media interest than there was when we first began.”

With so many years under his belt, you’d figure he’d be a good guy to pick a winner. His guess?

“You got to figure (Tony) Romo has been there what, maybe three years in a row. Maybe this year. Obviously (Jack) Wagner is playing well. (Rick) Rhoden is playing well, I think his back is not bothering him as much, so I would think he would be someone that may compete,” Milthorpe said. “But obviously a Romo win would be good for everybody. From the added exposure, it would be good for the event.”