This weekend, Lake Tahoe hosts the American Century Championship, the biggest celebrity charity golf event of the year. This tournament brings out every A-list athlete, from almost every sport.
Jerry Rice, Patrick Mahomes and John Elway are just a few of the NFL guys out there. Steph Curry and the entire Curry family are in the field, also representing the NBA. MLB and NHL are also heavily represented.
The list goes on and on and even includes TV personalities like The Miz and Colin Jost.
Although the athletes and celebrities are competitive, they are also out here having fun.
This allows fans to gain impressive access to the celebrities.
I witnessed a fan playfully heckle Patrick Peterson and tell him that Lamar Jackson was going to tear him apart. Peterson, who signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the offseason, walked up to the fan and told him, “Two picks, this year. Two picks from Lamar.”
He then took pictures with the fan and his friends.
That’s the type of atmosphere here. It’s fun yet electric. Think TPC Scottsdale, but every hole is the party hole. The atmosphere is just wild.
It helps when the backdrop is one of the most beautiful scenes you’ve ever witnessed. The lake, flooded with boats and people, is literally 20 feet from the 17th green.
Perhaps the best thing about this weekend is the money raised for charity.
On Thursday, the tournament hosted the Korbel Long Drive Competition for the third year.
Curry and Mahomes topped the rushing yards at 318 and 317 yards, respectively. Then Vikings WR Adam Thielen surpassed them both.
In the end, Mahomes’ teammate, Travis Kelce, decimated them all. He smashed his tee shot on the par-5 16th 362 yards as the last to play through.
By winning the challenge, Korbel donated $5,000 in his name to a charity of his choice.
On the biggest party hole, the par-3 17th, there is a $1 million Hole in One challenge. Curry made a hole-in-one Saturday, though, on the par-3 7th. His reaction was priceless as he sprinted all the way to the dugout where the fans went wild.
The celebrities also took part in the Charity Chip Challenge at 14.
Golfers will have three chances to sink a chip from 25 yards. If they do, American Century Investments will donate $250 to the Stowers Institute for Medical Research up to a total donation amount of $25,000.
American Century Investments is the 25-year title sponsor of the tournament and strives for the betterment of humanity. This year they have raised more than $7 million for the Stowers Institute as well as local charities in California, South Tahoe and Nevada.
Amazingly, ACI directs over 40% of their profits – nearly $2 billion since 2000 – to medical research.
But charities also abound on the course.
I was fortunate enough to work with MasterCraft, an American manufacturer of luxury high performance boats. They run a campaign out here, Surf to Save Lives, and collect money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
For every minute any athlete, media member or fan goes out on the boat to try to wake surf, MasterCraft donates $1. They have a handful of boats that constantly go out on the lake, with Mahomes being one of the many celebrities who attend.
I have always felt a strong connection with this charity. So when I heard about this promotion, I decided to give it a shot. I failed miserably, but on my fifth try I got on the board, thanks in part to my amazing coach, Alexa.
Professional wake boarder and TV personality, Alexa Score, came out on the boat with me. She herself survived childhood cancer.
I was thrilled as I listened to her story and talk about growing up in cold, snowy Minnesota.
It was the water that saved her, she said. Score told himself not to give up and keep fighting to make it to next summer. It is remarkable that she expressed this desire and passion, paired with phenomenal resilience and athleticism, to become a professional in water sports.
She is just one of the many incredible people I have met this weekend.
Friday night while touring the city I attended a show, Magic After Dark at The Loft. It was a great show and well worth the price of admission.
Robert Hall was the star of the show and his assistant, Reagan Riot, was just that, a riot. They were also a joy to talk to after the show, with Reagan deeply trained in live theater, Vaudeville and Burlesque history.
Highly recommended when visiting Lake Tahoe.
But even patrons around here are great. Well, why wouldn’t they be. What is there to complain about when you look at this everyday life?
I met a gentleman named Darin Thompson who is an avid golfer. He’s pretty well connected, got me next to UFC president Dana White for dinner.
Delilah Arch, another super friendly and personable person I met, got photos with the MMA giant showing how approachable he is.
Thompson comes out to Tahoe every year for this event with his friends. He showed me some of the sights, tipped me off to some of the sneaky good establishments, and was generally a great guy.
At dinner the first night, a man named Rich asked me how the food was. We engaged in conversation and it was clear that he is a huge golf guy and extremely likeable. Funnily enough, I ran into him on the course the following day.
The following night I met an elderly couple for dinner. They are from Dallas and also fly in for this tournament every year. They were equally pleasant to talk to.
Everyone I’ve met or worked with out here has been lovely.
This whole experience has been sublime. People are festive and happy. The course is perhaps the most beautiful I have ever seen. The money raised for a number of charities is heartwarming.
All the while, sports fans are getting closer to their childhood heroes than ever before.
Lake Tahoe is known as a winter wonderland. But it has nothing in the summer. If you’re ever looking for a great weekend getaway, you can’t beat the American Century Championship in South Lake Tahoe.