Tee Off With Timberlake

Former boy-band star turns tournament host for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

Just a few years ago, it was easy to categorize Justin Timberlake as a musician. Then he began to diversify, adding actor, producer, label-owner and clothing designer to his resumé. And now the Grammy- and Emmy-award winning artist has added yet another feather to a very crowded cap—charity golf tournament host.

The Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open will be played October 13-19 at the TPC Summerlin, and includes a star-studded concert at the Planet Hollywood Theater For the Performing Arts October 17. Justin will be the Tournament’s 14th host, following in the footsteps of such celebrities as Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.

The 27-year-old has some infamous shoes to fill, but one past host in particular has inspired him. “I'm hoping I'll compare in the future more to Bing Crosby, since he was probably the best celebrity golfer to host one, as far as handicaps go,” he mused. “Obviously I'm a huge fan of the Rat Pack. I just have to find three or four other guys who can really get out there and play and who love it, who can play the part and dress the part.”

Hosting a tournament is a big accomplishment, and one Justin has aspired to for many years. “It's kind of been a small dream of mine to host an event. The first time I ever played a ProAm in golf was at the Bob Hope in the desert. I had a great time, and I thought to myself it would be amazing if one day I could host an event and raise some money for charity.”

Along with Justin’s involvement, the addition of host hotel Red Rock Casino and the Planet Hollywood concert venue have added a decidedly youthful twist to the event. “We're excited about the opportunity that Vegas has to offer. I'm actually really excited about being at the (host hotel) Red Rock Hotel (and Spa). It's a really cool, fun, kind of young vibe. And being involved with Planet Hollywood venue, it's a very classy venue. I think we're going to be able to do a very special evening.”

More than just a name on the marquee, Justin has a legitimate love of the game. “My dad tried to get me into (golf) when I was younger, but I was pretty a die‑hard basketball player,” he recalled. “I didn't really fall in love with the game until I was about 21 or 22, on tour. My crew and stage manager took me out for a round of golf, and I remembered everything my dad had taught me. I immediately fell in love with the game.”

The tournament will feature over 72 holes of golf, with a celebrity ProAm on Wednesday, October 15, in which amateur golfers are paired with a celebrity and a golf professional. “I want to make Wednesday an entertaining day for the fans,” Justin emphasized, but “we’ve got some cool things planned the rest of the week with the players, their families and all the celebrities that attend (as well).”

As for his dream celebrity foursome? “Well, I do enjoy playing with Sam Jackson, we always have a good time. I also enjoy playing with Andy Garcia. And then maybe somebody like Will Smith. I think we'd all have fun together.”

Other friends of Justin’s will be helping with the Wednesday night concert, including 50 Cent, Rhianna, The Jonas Brothers, Boyz II Men, Leona Lewis, Adam Levine of Maroon 5, Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas and one of Justin’s artists, Esmée Denters, with other artists possibly added up to the show date.

Justin himself will play only a small part in the actual concert. “I'm going to host the show, possibly get in the mix. Obviously I have a big week hosting the tournament and the things that that entails,” he said, “(but) It's going to be a great concert.”

With this his first year as host in a multi-year commitment, does Justin have any big plans for future tourneys?

“I don't want to overshoot our hopes, but obviously if I come into this, I aim high. I would be lying if I didn't say we'd love to make it part of the points race,” he laughed. Apart from his commitment to the Shriners, “I'm committed to the tournament. We want to make it a marquee stop on the tour, a fun occasion for the players and the families and the celebrities who all attend.”

At the end of the day, though, Justin ultimately wants to hit the links. “You know, I get lost in the beauty of the courses I play, I get lost in the game,” he enthused. “That's when it really hits you that it really is the greatest game ever played.”

Published October 2008
What's On, The Las Vegas Guide Magazine

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