Hall of Fame year for Lake Tahoe celebrity golf tournament

Tahoe Onstage

Soon-to-be Baseball Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman speaks on Tuesday at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

In its 29th year, Lake Tahoe’s celebrity golf tournament — the American Century Championship — became a little more famous.

Baseball’s Trevor Hoffman, football’s Brian Urlacher and basketball’s Ray Allen will be inducted into their respective sport’s halls of fame this year, increasing to 16 the number Hall of Famers who will compete in the July 13-15 championship at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Stateline, Nevada.

“You don’t ever think about being one of those guys,” said Hoffman, 50, the change-up extraodinaire closer who attended media day at the course on Tuesday. “The full impact won’t hit me probably until when I land in Cooperstown.”

Two weeks before Hoffman makes his historic trip to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, he will compete in Tahoe with Hall of Fame brethren such as Jerry Rice, Greg Maddux, John Elway, Ozzie Smith and Marcus Allen.

Most notably, pitcher John Smoltz will be return to Tahoe, too. Smoltz, 51 shot a 69 at the Planterra Ridge Golf Course in Georgia and won a three-player playoff to qualify for the June 27-July 1 U.S. Senior Open. Rick Rhoden and John Brodie are the only other Tahoe celebrity golfers to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open.

But that doesn’t make him the favorite. Smoltz’ former Atlanta Braves teammate Mark Mulder, at 5-2 odds this year, has won the tournament three straight times. Fan favorite Steph Curry, who is busy this week playing in the NBA finals, will be back, as well.

Tahoe Onstage

Steph Curry slams an alley oop pass from Justin Timberlake in 2017
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Oddsmakers’ early lines have 10 former big league pitchers listed among the top 46 in the field of at least 90 competitors. A 60-1 longshot, Hoffman is still competitive, saying starting pitchers should be good golfers because they had ample days off to develop their golf swings. He added that fellow reliever Eric Gagne, listed at 8-1, is the most improved player in the tournament. Odds on Curry are 15-1.

Hoffman is the San Diego Padres senior adviser to baseball operations. He retired as the all-time saves leader with 601, a mark that has been eclipsed by Mario Rivera.

He attributes his remarkably long, 18-year big league career to his father’s decision to have him stop pitching at the age of 12. He became a full-time middle infielder who advanced to the professional ranks. After a year and a half in the minor leagues, it was determined he couldn’t bat well enough to play in the majors, so he was converted to a pitcher. After a 11-year hiatus from the mound, he and his preserved arm and subsequent baffling change up went on to post 40 or more saves for nine seasons, the most all time.

A lot has changed since Hoffman retired.

Now, there are instant replays, radical infield and outfield shits, 3-D K zones are televised and influence plate umpires, and one team has started its closer, hoping he will get three or four outs at the top of the lineup.

Hoffman is a traditionalist.

“It would be very hard to pitch in this day and age,” Hoffman said. “I don’t understand the long-term viability of starting a reliever. Maybe it’s being overthought. There are so much analytics, we’re getting too technological and not just playing the game. I don’t get why we have to run over to the headphones every time there’s a close play.”

Hoffman can commiserate with fellow Hall of Famers, celebrities and fans on the spectacular Lake Tahoe shoreline this summer. The ACC set an attendance record with 55,081 a year ago for the event televised each year on NBC.

Notes: Hoffman says Todd Helton was the toughest hitter he ever faced. He said he finally took the advice from a fellow hurler who told him to save his energy and throw the first pitch down the middle, let him get his hit and get it over with. …

Howie Nave

Tuesday was a media junket, celebrating the 1-year anniversary of the Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe, course redesign and new head restaurant chef. There were eight foursomes treated to a complimentary round. … “I was offered an open bar tab if I didn’t golf,” KRLT-Radio’s Howie Nave lamented. … Charles Barkley is a terrible golfer and a 6000-1 bet to win the tourney. … Pitbull will perform Friday, July 13, at Harveys Outdoor Arena … Dell Curry, who jumped in the lake after losing to his son, Steph, last year, was on a telephone news conference. He said he was a pitcher who was drafted by the Texas Rangers. Son Steph took up golf as his second sport after he learned he could not hit a curveball. … Smoltz said qualifying for the U.S. Senior Open “was the greatest feeling I’ve had … since winning the World Series. I still wake up trying to calm down knowing in a couple of weeks I’ll actually be playing (in it).” This year’s Baseball Hall of Fame inductees are Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Vladimer Guerrero, Jim Thome, along with two more elected by the Veterans Committee, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris.

-Tim Parsons

Related story: Steph Curry returning to Lake Tahoe.

  • American Century Championship
    July 13-15
    Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course
    The Early Line
    Mark Mulder                     5/2
    Tony Romo                         3/1
    Marty Fish                           5/1
    Eric Gagne                           8/1
    John Smoltz                        10/1
    Jack Wagner                       12/1
    Mark Rypien                      12/1
    Jeremy Roenick               12/1
    Derek Lowe                        15/1
    Stephen Curry                   15/1
    Trent Dilfer                         20/1
    John Elway                          20/1
    Mike Modano                   20/1
    Joe Pavelsky                      20/1
    Sterling Sharpe                 25/1
    Brian Urlacher                   25/1
    Vinny Del Negro               30/1
    Joe Carter                           30/1
    Aaron Rodgers                  30/1
    Case Keenum                    30/1
    Colt Ford                              30/1
    Also notable
    Alfonso Ribeiro                 40/1
    Del Curry                            40/1
    Jeffy Rice                             40/1
    Roger Clemens                   60/1
    Trevor Hoffman                 60/1
    Urban Meyer                     100/1
    Terrell Davis                       500/1
    Marcus Allen                      500/1
    Dan Quayle                         500/1
    Steve Young                       2000/1
    Kathryn Tappen                 2000/1
    Charles Barkley                 6000/1

About Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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