More fun. Less grind. Why the 8AM Golf Invitational is different than the rest

The top dogs of the week, Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake.

The top dogs of the week, Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake.


Imagine asking 28 golf-obsessed celebrities to compete in a tournament that values the golf hang over the golf grind, an event that is more about the numbers raised for charity than the numbers penciled on a scorecard. The result is the 8AM Golf Invitational, hosted by J.T. and Wynn Las Vegas.

The “J.T.” stands for Justin Timberlake, an investor and partner in 8AM Golf, a holding company that owns and invests in 14 golf brands, including GOLF magazine. The event grew significantly from year one to year two — its field showcased an additional eight celebs, and it aligned with four sponsors who each invited anywhere from 10 to 50 guests and spectators. The friends who joined Timberlake included entertainers like Jimmy Fallon, Kathryn Newton, Chace Crawford and Nate Bargatze; NFL standouts like J.J. Watt, Michael Strahan and Travis Kelce; and other household-name athletes like Michelle Wie West, Michael Phelps and C.C. Sabathia.

The laid-back rounds were followed by upscale dinners that had a “modern rat pack” dress code, a nod to Frank Sinatra’s rich history at Wynn Las Vegas, which he frequented when it was called The Desert Inn. The resort knows how to throw a party, and that was on full display when it hosted a blackjack tournament that included all 28 golfers and raised $392,500 for the American Skin Association. The next night, after the crowd deemed Kelce the winner of an epic karaoke competition, Wynn Las Vegas donated $25,000 to the American Skin Association in his name.

The only spectators allowed to join the fun were those invited by one of the event’s four sponsors: Cabot, CDW/NetApp, Dewar’s and Greyson Clothiers. Each sponsor had different reasons for aligning with the event, but the overarching lure was providing a client experience that is unmatched in the world of golf.

From left: Michelle Wie West, Erin Lim Rhodes and Kira K. Dixon.
From left: Michelle Wie West, Erin Lim Rhodes and Kira K. Dixon. JEFF MARSH

The field of golfers was divided into two teams of 14 players (Team Wynn versus Team Encore), and every participant was paired with a partner. Each pair enjoyed friendly nine-hole scramble matches over two rounds of golf, along with post-round shootouts. Timberlake and Fallon, who have been close friends for more than 20 years, took home the top prize after winning a sudden-death playoff against Newton and actor Michael Peña. CDW and NetApp donated $40,000 to the winning teams’ respective charities, and Dewar’s rounded out the charitable component of the event by donating $19,000 to the winner of Friday’s 19th Hole Shoot-out. Is it any surprise that major champion Michelle Wie West knocked it closest on that 62-yard shot?

The total for charity this year amounted to $451,000. Combined with the inaugural event, the 8AM Golf Invitational has raised more than $1 million in just two years.

Camaraderie and charity will always be the cornerstones of the event, and that’s intentional — those are the qualities Timberlake most appreciates about golf.

Ashley Mayo

Mayo is GOLF’s Editorial Director and oversees the brand’s vision and strategy. Whether content lives digitally or in print, Mayo ensures that its standards live up to those established by GOLF’s chairman. Before joining the GOLF team, Ashley spent 11 years as an editor at Golf Digest. While there, she earned her Masters degree from Columbia’s School of Journalism. Before joining Golf Digest, Mayo competed on the first-ever women’s golf team at the University of Virginia. She is also the Head of Brand at GOLF’s parent company, 8AM Golf.