Who to watch (and where) at Tahoe’s celebrity golf tournament
The American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament gets started in earnest this Friday and runs through Sunday. While it’s hard to go wrong at a stunning golf course filled with sports stars, actors, comedians and throngs of enthusiastic fans, here’s a couple tips on getting the most out of a day on the celebrity links:
Who to watch
Billy Joe Tolliver, Mark Rypien, John Smoltz and Rick Rhoden are among the favorites to win the tournament this year. Like pretty much all golf tournaments, the pressure ramps during the final round, making the competition especially heated Sunday. Friday and Saturday are good for keeping it mellow and watching some celebrities, but pay attention to the leader board Sunday and consider following the best performers during the last six or so holes to catch any drama that may go down as the tournament wraps up.
This one is kind of a no-brainer, but several people on the course get paid to make people laugh, and, oftentimes, they just can’t help themselves. Ray Romano, Larry the Cable Guy and Kevin Nealon are fan favorites at the tournament because they’re always good for a chuckle or 12. Actor Alfonso Ribeiro also interacts well with the crowd and has been known to bust out the “Carlton Dance” from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” every once in awhile if you play your cards right.
Your favorite sports starts
The course is littered with sports fans rocking their favorite player’s jerseys in search of autographs. Even if you’re not a die-hard fan, it’s always fun to see some of these guys in person. I’ll be looking for Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould, linebacker Jared Allen, former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon and former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, as well as skier Bodie Miller and former Chicago Bulls guard and Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr. Kerr should be an especially big draw this year, fresh off the Warriors victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. There’s a little something for every sports fan out there, so take a look at the player list and find out how big these athletes are in person.
I’ve followed Chuck around at the celebrity golf tournament on a couple of occasions and he definitely lives up to the hype. Part comedian, part sports star, he’s personable, approachable and always attracts a large, fun crowd. You never know what Barkley will say or do, making him one of the most exciting players on the course. Chances are he will also make you feel better about your own golf game.
Where to Watch
Holes 1 and 10
Early birds out to the tournament can get a glimpse of the entire field as players alternate teeing off between the first and 10th holes. For those intent on following a specific group, it’s a great opportunity to get a look at some other participants before shoving off with your chosen celebs.
The 16th, 17th and 18th
Hole 16 is an intimidating drive that faces the lake and features a green surrounded by bunkers of doom, making for plenty of excitement. Hole 17 is a par three and the course’s marquee spot, where the beach, Lake Tahoe, the fans and celebrities all really come together. You can probably skip the drive on 18, but you don’t want to miss any of the action from the second shot or green at Edgewood’s final hole.
A little bit of everything
Edgewood Tahoe is a beautiful golf course, so it’s worth putting some miles on your shoes to see as much of it as you can. The holes closest to the clubhouse tend to draw the most attention, while the last few holes on the front nine tend to be pretty quiet. If you’re looking to escape the crowds, those holes are not a bad place to be.
While I recommend getting out on the course at least one day during the three-day tournament, the event plays extremely well on the small screen. The broadcast also jumps around, giving you an overall perspective on the tournament that’s impossible to get on foot. NBC Sports Network provides live coverage Friday, with NBC airing the tournament Saturday and Sunday. Golf Channel will also provide additional coverage of the tournament.
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It’s time to secure outdoor loose furniture, decorations and garbage cans because high winds are aimed at Lake Tahoe for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.