Welcome to celebrity golf, Las Vegas style.
You’ve probably seen the sports and entertainment guys and gals on TV every July with the tournament at Lake Tahoe. Now, here’s your chance to see them up close and personal at the inaugural Westgate Resorts Celebrity Classic.
The three-day event is being held April 23-26 at the Las Vegas Country Club. It is a 36-hole tournament along with an opening-day Pro-Am that will coincide with the NFL Draft, also being held in Las Vegas.
Wednesday saw a media golf outing that kicked off the upcoming festivities. On hand were former NFL greats Jay Schroeder and Brian Urlacher. They talked about the NFL, golf and Las Vegas. To say there was excitement in the air for this event would be an understatement.
“This is going to be absolutely tremendous,” said Schroeder. “This is so different than a team sport. Golf it’s just you and that stupid little golf ball sitting right in front of you. Your only job is to try and hit it straight. It’s a job that not even the pros master so there’s always a chance for us amateurs to succeed.”
Schroeder, who passed for more than 20,000 yards in his NFL career, was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the third round in 1994. He got his first playing time in 1995 when — and take a deep breath before you read this next part — Joe Theismann suffered his horrendous career-ending leg injury against the New York Giants. Schroeder played 10 seasons in the NFL with four different teams, including the Raiders, when they were based in L.A. He had 114 career touchdown passes.
For Urlacher, who played his entire 13-year career with the Chicago Bears, this type of event provides him the chance to pursue his over-the-top love of golf.
“This will be a huge draw,” said Urlacher. “The weekend they’re having it with the draft, it will be crazy here.”
Urlacher recorded a franchise-best 1,354 tackles. He also came up with 41.5 sacks and 22 interceptions. Not to be outdone by the offense, he also had five career touchdowns — two interception returns, a pair of fumble recoveries and a touchdown reception.
Now, he’s back in Vegas teeing it up.
“It’s not like I need an excuse to come to Vegas,” he said. “It’s always fun to be here. But to have an event like this is going to take everything to a new level.”
Some of the other top celebrities scheduled to be in the field (22 have already signed up) include: Jeremy Roenick (NHL), Mark Mulder and Roger Clemens (MLB), Mardy Fish (tennis) and Robbie Gould (NFL).
Spearheading the celebrity golf event is Richard Siegel, executive vice president at Westgate Las Vegas. To Siegel, this tournament has been a long time in coming.
“I’ve been wanting to do a golf tournament for a very long time,” he said. “We bought this property 5-1/2 years ago and thought ‘Oh my God, we’re not only right next door to the Las Vegas Country Club, we’re partners.’ We just never got the momentum until about six months ago.”
Now, it’s full speed ahead.
As for the tournament being held during draft week, it was a no-brainer.
“We could have had it any time,” Siegel said. “But (the NFL draft) will be one of the biggest events in Vegas history and we figure it’s a numbers game. People will be in town, pro football players will be in town and celebrities will be in town so it won’t be tough to get people to come out. It’s our first one and we want to make sure it’s a home run. Or in this case, a touchdown.”
For more information, go to the event’s website at westgateresorts.com/golf-tournament/. There are a variety of packages that will let fans hobnob with the celebrities at events on and off the golf course.