Tee time nears for celebrity golf
STATELINE — In its 18th year, the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament starts Tuesday at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course as the premier event of the South Shore. And some could argue it’s good timing for such an event that reaches millions of viewers on NBC and ESPN.
“It’s good because it shows Lake Tahoe (isn’t on fire),” Edgewood Golf Course Manager Randy Fox said Sunday of the devastating Angora fire that ripped through the North Upper Truckee and Tahoe Mountain neighborhoods of the community two weeks ago.
With the warm spring, Fox said the grounds are in good shape in preparation for the mass arrivals of guests and players.
The staff and volunteers were putting the finishing touches on the lakeshore setting that serves as a selling point for those who work on, play in and watch the festivities.
Edgewood gardener Barbie Loeffler, who has worked on the grounds for a few decades, was out Sunday afternoon doing some weeding around the flowers. Loeffler maintains the gardens, then let’s them go, with the hope overzealous fans won’t trample the plants.
“It’s very gratifying. I love my job,” Loeffler said.
The cooking staff was wrapping up a wedding Sunday and worked on the tournament logistics for this week.
The grandstands were erected this past weekend. Ropes are expected to go up today in anticipation of some of the biggest names in sports and the entertainment worlds.
Tour de France cycling great and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong will return for the second year on Thursday with his foundation that provides assistance to those battling the disease.
The old favorites — Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, John Elway and John O’Hurley – will be joined by some newcomers this year such as Jerome Bettis, the former Pittsburgh Steelers running back nicknamed “The Bus,” as well as announcer Al Michaels and Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo.
Soap opera star Jack Wagner won the tournament in 2006.
The celebrity aspect of the event brings out hundreds of starstruck fans to catch a glimpse of or an autograph from the superstars. Some use the jerseys they’ve worn, others the programs and women have been known to display body parts where they’d like that signature.
For the most part, many families turn out — including a little girl hugging the ropes who asked what Jordan plays. Her father whispered “basketball.”
“It’s really a family fun event. They come to see the celebrities,” said Dick Horn, who co-chairs the group of volunteer course marshals. Apparently, the volunteers come for the same reason. They pay $60 to participate.
18th Annual American Century Championship
• Some of the biggest sports and entertainment stars try their hands at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course Tuesday through Sunday, with the television coverage starting on Friday and gates opening at 7 a.m.
• Season pass (good for all days): $50
• Record purse: $600,000
• Title sponsor: American Century Investments
• Host hotel: Harrah’s Lake Tahoe