This weekend, Lake Tahoe is hosting the American Century Championship, the biggest celebrity charity golf event of the year. This tournament brings out all the A-list athletes, from nearly every sport.
Jerry Rice, Patrick Mahomes and John Elway are just a few of the NFL guys out here. Steph Curry and the whole Curry family are in the field as well representing the NBA. The MLB and NHL are also heavily represented.
The list goes on and on, and even includes TV personalities like The Miz and Colin Jost.
Even though the athletes and celebrities are competitive, they are also out here having a ton of fun.
This allows fans to have impressive access to the celebrities.
I witnessed a fan playfully heckling Patrick Peterson, telling him Lamar Jackson was going to tear him up. Peterson, who signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason, strolled over to the fan and told him, “Two picks, this year. Two picks off Lamar.”
He then took pictures with the fan and his friends.
That is the type of atmosphere here. It’s fun yet electric. Think TPC Scottsdale, but every hole is the party hole. The vibe is just wild.
It helps when the backdrop is one of the most beautiful scenes you have ever witnessed. The lake, flooded with boats and people, is literally 20 feet from the 17th green.
Maybe the best thing about this weekend is the money raised for charities.
On Thursday, the tournament hosted the Korbel Long Drive Competition for the third year.
Curry and Mahomes were atop the leaderboard for driving distance at 318 and 317 yards respectively. Then Vikings WR Adam Thielen surpassed them both.
Ultimately, Mahomes’ teammate, Travis Kelce, decimated all of them. He crushed his tee 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 hit a hole in one Saturday, but on the par-3 7th. His reaction was priceless, sprinting the whole way to the hole, with fans going nuts.
The celebrities also participated 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 to better 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.
Incredibly, ACI directs over 40% of their profits – nearly $2 billion since 2000 – to medical research.
But there are charities abound on the course as well.
I was lucky enough to work with MasterCraft, an American manufacturer of luxury high-performance boats. They are out here running a campaign, Surf to Save Lives, raising money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
For every minute any athlete, media member or fan goes out on the boat to attempt to wake surf, MasterCraft is donating $1. They have a handful of boats constantly going out onto the lake, with Mahomes being one of the many celebrities to take part.
I have always felt a strong connection with this charity. So, when I learned of this campaign, I decided to give it a shot. I failed miserably but on my fifth attempt, I made it up onto 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 was a childhood cancer survivor herself.
I was enthralled listening to her story, talking about growing up in cold, snowy Minnesota.
It was the water that saved her, she said. Score told herself not to give up and keep fighting just to get to the next summer. It’s remarkable that she parlayed that desire and passion, paired with phenomenal resiliency and athleticism, to go pro in water sports.
She is just one of the many incredible people I have met this weekend.
Friday night, while touring the town, I took in a show, Magic After Dark at The Loft. It was a fantastic show and well worth the price of admission.
Robert Hall was the star of the show and his assistant, Reagan Riot, was exactly that, a riot. They were a pleasure to speak with after the show as well, with Reagan being deeply educated in live theatre, Vaudeville and Burlesque history.
Strongly recommended when you visit Lake Tahoe.
But even the patrons around here are amazing. Well, I guess why wouldn’t they be. What is there to complain about when you are looking at this everyday?
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 at dinner.
Delilah Arch, another super kind and personable individual 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 buddies. He showed me some of the sights, gave me a clue to some of the sneaky good establishments, and was an overall great guy.
At dinner the first night, a man named Rich asked me how the food was. We engaged in a conversation and it was clear he’s a huge golf guy, and extremely likable. Hilariously, I then ran into him at the course the following day.
The following night, I met an older couple at dinner. They are from Dallas and also fly in for this tournament every year. They were equally pleasurable to speak with.
Everyone I have met or worked with out here has been delightful.
This entire experience has been sublime. The people are festive and happy. The course is maybe the most beautiful I have ever seen. The money raised for a number of charities is heartwarming.
All the while, sports fans get closer to their childhood heroes than ever before.
Lake Tahoe is known as a winter wonderland. But it’s got nothing on summer. If you are ever looking for a great weekend vacation, you can’t beat the American Century Championship in South Lake Tahoe.