Good fun with the bad and sometimes ugly golf |

Good fun with the bad and sometimes ugly golf

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune file / Because of a format change, Chris Webber's record round of 143 will never be broken.

Thousands of golf fans flock to Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course each July to witness the exceptional golf competition among the celebrity players.

Regulars like Rick Rhoden, Jack Wagner and Dan Quinn annually provide a good show as they navigate the course with great shots and consistent play hoping to secure prize money and the winner’s trophy.

Unlike the PGA tour, this tournament also gives fans the opportunity to see some truly bad golf. Though 10 handicap minimum is a requirement, there are exceptions made for celebrities who are a big draw at the gate, and may not necessary play the sport well.

Throughout the 17 years Edgewood has hosted the event, there have been some truly embarrassing performances, much to the entertainment of the gallery.

Following the bad golfers more resembles a comedy routine than a sports competition. As the ultimate “taunting” sport, listening to these golfers try an humiliate each other can keep the audience more than entertained.

When former Minnesota governor and professional wrestler Jessie “The Body” Ventura was searching for his ball in the marshland somewhere near the 12th holer, Wayne Gretzky commented how his Navy Seal training helped him get through the swamp.

One year, as Charles Barkley was competing in a stiff competition with Chris Webber to see who would escape “last place,” Sir Charles bragged how more people were following their group than the leaders. “We get to see a lot more shots,” yelled a wisecracking fan from the gallery.

Since competing for the championship is usually eliminated for these bad golfers just after their first tee shot, many of the lesser quality golfers choose to enjoy the Tahoe nightlife, rather than concentrating on their golf prowess.

After a night at the casinos, most likely with little or no sleep, Mr. Barkley proceeded to hit six tee shots into the little lake in front of Hole 11. Then on 15 he recorded what it most likely the highest ever for a single hole in the competition. (Editor’s note: Quotes from Charles during his attempts to clear the pond cannot be written since this is a family newspaper).

What is amazing about Barkley is that he actually wasn’t that bad when he began playing in the tournament. His first year in 1993, he recorded respectable scores of 84, 89 and 91.

After the golf demons attacked his downswing, there was a stretch from 1997 until 2001 when Sir Charles was always on the high end of the century mark, and has failed to improve much since then.

David Cassidy, of “Partridge Family” fame, is the only golfer never to shoot below 100, recording scores of 102, 101 and 100 in his only appearance back in 1999.

Kevin Nealon began his celebrity golf career in 2000 with rounds of 110 and 114, before finishing his first weekend with a respectable 95. The following year, however, he reverted to his old ways with scores of 110, 103 and 114.

The worst recorded round ever was a 143 tallied by Chris Webber in 2002. As he approached the first tee the following morning, trying to forget about his previous day’s debacle, the announcer embarrassed Chris by exclaiming “on the first tee, holder of the course record, Chris Webber.”

Even some of the better golfers succumb to the pressures of playing in front of so many fans. Bill Laimbeer was in a playoff for the championship with 1991. On the 18th hole, Laimbeer’s second shot landed behind the small pond to the left of the green. Four shots into the water later, Mr. Laimbeer had given away the tournament, but had the distinction of having the pond forever forward known as “Lake Laimbeer.”

Barkley is back again to see if he can stay off the bottom of the leaderboard. Again, the brash, outgoing Sir Charles, with his hitch-in-his-downswing style, will try to verbally intimidate his foes.

Sir Charles’ main competition may come from former Notre Dame and South Carolina coach Lou Holtz. When asked how a round went several years ago, the former coached replied, “Do you know that golf spelled backwards is flog?” That pretty much summed up his day.

So golf fans, in between watching Rhoden and Quinn shoot birdies and make amazing shots, give those who are at the bottom of the leader a little love and attention. These players are sacrificing their integrity, and opening themselves up to public humiliation, just to entertain you, the paying customers.

One word of warning! Stand behind these golfers when they tee off. You never know which direction the little white projectile is going to go.

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