In golf-gambling circles, there is widespread belief that only eight or nine players stand a chance of winning this week’s American Century Championship, in Lake Tahoe.
And widespread agreement that Charles Barkley isn’t one of them. Barkley is not offended. He feels the same. (He finds it freeing.)
He knows that he can party hard throughout the week, going deep on blackjack and bottle service, without dashing title chances that he doesn’t have.
As much as he enjoys a drink or two or three, he says he’s never gotten drunk enough to think he can compete in this celebrity shebang.
Contrast Barkley with a guy like Tony Romo, a multiple-time American Century winner:
Tony Romo is among the betting favorites.
Tony Romo doesn’t pull all-nighters.
Tony Romo needs his beauty sleep.
And so it was this week, on the eve of the tournament’s first official tee times, that two of the biggest names in the field took very different tacks. As Barkley set up festive camp across the road at Harrah’s, holding court with friends and random revelers, Romo retired at a reasonable hour, bedding down in high thread-count sheets in a luxury suite beside the lake.
Romo wanted quiet, rest and comfort.
He was lucky. There was a time when those features would have been hard to find.
In 1968, when Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course opened, South Lake wasn’t known for its refined accommodations. In 1990, when the tournament was founded, things were pretty much the same. People came for the scenery and outdoor recreation. But they stayed at the casinos. If you wanted high-end digs, your best bet was North Lake Tahoe, some 30 miles away.
Then, in 2017, Edgewood Tahoe Resort opened. Like Barkley’s swing work with Stan Utley, it has been a game-changer.
Set along the water, a quick skip from Edgewood’s Frank Gehry-designed clubhouse, the resort is an alpine lodge, modernized and reimagined — all glass and dark wood and soaring ceilings, with postcard views of its surrounds. Inside, there’s a spa, as serene as any place not made by nature; a smart Cal-Med bistro; and 154 guest rooms and suites, topped by a 1,500-square-foot offering they call the Presidential Suite, though its appointments might be a better fit for royalty.
Outside, there’s a year-round swimming pool and hot tub, which give way to the area’s only private beach. A complimentary s’mores cart comes out in the evening, and an apres sleep cart stocked with granola, tee, juice and the like comes out in the morning. Name it, you can find it. Daily yoga classes. Artisan cocktails. Just not a casino. The resort doesn’t have one. It is elevated but understated, an escape to the mountains, removed from any madness.
No wonder Romo loves the place.
Like its neighboring George Fazio-designed course, the resort sits on land belonging to the Park family, whose roots in the region reach back generations. Their forebears arrived here nearly 150 years ago, pioneers who became cattle ranchers. The tournament you watch this weekend is taking place on former grazing ground.
Keep Tahoe Blue. So goes the local slogan. The Parks have taken it to heart. The resort is as green as any putting surface: reusable water bottles in all the guests rooms; agave straws in all the drinks. The LEEDs-certified lodge is cooled by water pumped in from the center of the lake.
As the cachet of the American Century has grown, the draw of the resort has grown with it. The A-listers want in. Late one afternoon this week, David Wells was hanging in the bistro lounge, talking baseball with the actor Miles Teller. Travis Kelce was working out in the fitness center, because even when you’re playing in a big-time tournament, NFL training never rests.
It has gotten tough to land a room here. But the resort is taking steps to satisfy demand while upping the ante on elegance. Alongside the 8th and 9th holes, work is nearly completed on the first in a collection of multiple-bedroom Villa Suites, with the first reservations slated for fall of this year.
Sorry, Charles. Romo already has already called dibs.