TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola Junior Reporter

The PGA TOUR, in partnership with The First Tee, offers a Junior Course Reporter program that provides First Tee chapter members an opportunity to participate in unique behind-the-scenes tournament activities.  The Junior Course Reporter program underscores the PGA TOUR’s “Together, anything’s possible” charitable mission.

The First Tee of Atlanta Junior Course Reporters for the 2014 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola are:

-Noni Warren, a Birdie Level member and high school Senior at Hill Grove High School

-Brian Woolfolk, an Eagle Level member and high school sophmore at West Lake High School

They have official media credentials which enable them to:

- Visit the Golf Channel and SHOTlink trucks

- Meet and interview players, sponsors, caddies and celebrity guests

- Sit in on player news conferences and media interviews

- “Cover” the tournament via blogs, which are published daily, and can viewed below:

September 10, 2014 - Day 1 at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola

By: Noni Warren, The First Tee of Atlanta Junior On Course Reporter

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Today started out with perfect weather, cool winds, and a slight overcast that set the scene for a day full of new people and new knowledge. I started off my day at a press conference starring Rory McIlroy. Walking in the room was quite intimidating. Filled with cameras and a bunch of important looking adults was somewhat difficult. However, about ten minutes into the conference, anxiety softened and a more comfortable tone was set. Rory was a very down to earth, young and energetic guy who made it easy to ask him questions and was very cooperative on giving a long and attentive response. “I think it is important to set an example for kids. It is important to carry yourself in the right way.” With replies such as this, I felt more encouraged to step up and ask a question of my own. As the conference came to an end, I got the opportunity to ask the last question of the morning. “When did you first start playing golf? Who introduced you to the sport and why did you choose golf as your career?” Rory explained how he first started golf at two years old and how golf runs in his family. Rory’s dad introduced him to the sport and he chose golf as his career because “basically it was the only thing I was good at”. Getting the opportunity to speak with the number one ranked golf player in the world was a moment I will never forget. 

Next, we were given the opportunity to enter into some of golf’s major brands of equipment trucks. First we entered Nike, whose cool air conditioning was the first sign that we were in a welcoming environment. Rick Nickels and his partner Rob were both so eager and animated when telling us about the jobs they love and carry out every day. First they showed us the equipment that they had stored carefully as well as individually customized specifically to fit each player that is sponsored by their company. They displayed some of their golf clubs, hats, and gloves that the players would use every day or during a tournament. After being lucky enough to receive some free hats from Nike, we headed down to the Ping truck where Daniel Udd explained to us the complexity of making equipment for the professional golfers. My favorite part of the trucks was the chance to see “BUBBA’s” specially customized G30 pink matte driver. It was the most gorgeous club I had ever seen with the words “Made Exclusively for Bubba” written on the head of the club. Although quite simple, seeing that hot pink matte club was the highlight of my day. 

Even though seeing Bubba’s driver was fascinating, I actually learned a lot about the game of golf and the tools we use every day when playing. From the lie and loft of the club to the intricate details on the head that determine exactly how far and fast the ball flies off from the face, I was able to absorb and retain information most are unaware of. The First Tee of Atlanta kicked off the day with multiple opportunities many may never receive and for that I am grateful. Today gave me a new outlook on golf that has made me want to pursue golf throughout college and forward in life. Golf is a sport I will carry with me for many years to come and it was astonishing to see how much I didn't know and are looking forward to finding out about the thrilling game of golf.

September 11, 2014 - Day 2 at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola

Today the atmosphere of the course was entirely different. I'm not sure whether it was the memory of 9/11 that was encapsulating our surroundings or the tensions were rising because of the 11.7 million dollars on the line today . However, people were calmer, quieter, and more in tune to their surroundings. We started off our day speaking to Peter Candler, who is on the board of directors at our chapter, The First Tee of Atlanta, as well as the Vice President of Facilities at the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola. He got his start in major Atlanta Sporting events by helping Billy Payne, who together with Mr. Candler and others, played an integral part in getting the Olympics to Atlanta in 1996. Mr. Candler told us that he and Mr. Payne have been friends for over 40 years and he simply answered a call a friend placed to him. As The First Tee has taught us, it's important to be courteous and helpful; something these two men have definitely showed to each other and numerous others over the years!

Next we worked our way to meet up with a meteorologist named Stewart Williams, who explained to us the importance of his presence. He practically controls the outcome of the tournament. From harsh winds, to clouds just a little too dark, any weather elements that might seem trivial ultimately control the whole entire event. This is where Stewart Williams comes in. He helps predicts the weather. He monitors potential dangerous situations that could harm the people in the tournament. He does this through weather programs that show the amount of moisture in the air, electrons in the air, and different cold and warm fronts. Basically, Stewart William keeps the players safe, and as he said, more importantly, the spectators.

We then witnessed the Opening ceremony where the Patriot Choir of North Georgia  beautifully sang the National Anthem, which filled the audience with joy and pride, as we all remembered the tragic events that took place on this very day 13 years ago. As the opening ceremonies wrapped up, a The First Tee of East Lake member named Bashir Chuma closed the ceremony with an aggressive yet graceful shot, that awed the entire audience. With mouths wide open and all jaws drop, the audience attentively watched the ball until the moment it hit the ground. Bashir showed us that as Billy Horschel said, “Anybody can play it (the game of golf), I think that’s the way we need to go about getting younger kids in.” The Tour Championship by Coca-Cola provided Bashir with a once in a lifetime opportunity that should inspire everyone to go out and better themselves; whether in the great game of golf or in life.

Additionally, I took in and absorbed an exceptional amount of information that I am now able to take and carry with me through out my life and within the game of golf. Meeting such interesting and kind people and spending a plethora of time amongst successful and innovative people, I have a new outlook on how I approach the game of golf. I am extremely grateful to The First Tee of Atlanta who provided me with the opportunity to come to the Tour Champonship by Coca-Cola. I will never forget my experience here and I am looking forward to carrying the game of golf with me for many years to come.



September 10, 2014 - Day 1 at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola

By: Brian Woolfolk, The First Tee of Atlanta Junior On Course Reporter

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My first experience as a Junior Course Reporter has been amazing so far. To start the day off, we went to a press conference starring the #1 world ranked golf player- Rory McIlroy. We were able to listen as reporters asked him questions about his season. He talked about Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, The Fed-Ex Cup, and more. One of my fellow Course reporters was even able to ask him a question. The greatest part was that the interview aired on ESPN. Not many people can say they went to a televised press conference for Rory McIlroy, and I am immensely grateful to have the experience.

We then watched a few players on the range, one being Chris Kirk, who is the points leader in the Fed-Ex cup. We stopped by the Fidelity Investment Swing Lab booth ran by Vikki Vanderpool. She videotapes golfer’s of all skill levels and gives video lessons. Next we met with Andy Crockett, who is a construction coordinator at Georgia Power and Vice Chairman of Transportation committee here at The TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.

We toured both the Nike and Ping golf trucks. In these trucks, they store player equipment such as hats, gloves, balls, and clubs. My favorite thing about our visit to the equipment trucks was learning how they tailor and create new clubs specifically for a player’s needs. I found it very interesting how the workers make and adjust sophisticated clubs in such a short amount of time. They showed us how they work on the clubs and also showed us some clubs owned by famous players such as Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson. At the end of the equipment truck tour, they surprised us with free hats.

Next, we had the opportunity to go to the Shot Link truck. This is where all player stats and scores are kept. Aaron Spearman, a Producer there, explained to us the basics of Shot Link. They use lasers and volunteers to accurately get the statistics for every PGA Tournament. We attended another press conference, this time with Billy Horschel, the #2 points leader in the FedEx Cup. Two reporters in our group were able to ask him a question. I am already looking forward to my second day as a Junior Course Reporter!

 

September 11, 2014 - Day 2 at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola

Day Two of my experience as a Junior Course reporter has been just as exciting as the first. We first met with Peter Candler, the Vice Chairman of Facilities for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. He and Billy Payne (now Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club) were key advocates to get the Olympics to Atlanta in 1996 and now they both work in the golf industry! Then we visited Stewart Williams, a meteorologist from Schneider Electric. He tracks weather at 26 PGA tournaments all over the United States. Weather plays a large part in golf tournaments. The weather not only affects the tee distances, but it also affects the hole placements. Meteorologist are important because they protect both golfers and the spectators at golf tournaments. They give a 30-40 minutes warning of potentially dangerous weather. Though not very known, meteorologists play a very important role in golf tournaments.

Next we met with Alex Turnbull, a PGA employee, who serves as the go-between for ShotLink and the companies that will be televising the tournaments. We were then given a tour of the NBC broadcasting truck. Graphic designers in this truck take the statistical information from Shot Link and place them on the screen for viewers. They update leaderboards of the golf players. They also take the images from the various cameras around the golf course and decide which ones to air at which times. This experience has made me seriously consider working in sport broadcasting. 

Afterwards, we secured seats for the opening ceremony. The PGA commissioner Tim Finchem gave a speech, and so did many other esteemed men. A representative from “Building Homes for Heroes” presented the key to a mortgage free house for a combat injured veteran at the ceremony as well. Bashir Chuma, a sixteen year old First Tee of East Lake member, who is also aspiring to be a cardiovascular surgeon, hit the opening tee shot to start off the tournament. 

Our group decided to watch Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Billy Horschel, and Chris Kirk play the first few holes. It was a priceless experience to see how a professional swings up close. We then watched a few players play Hole #9. We walked back over to the Fidelity Investment Swing Lab, and got our golf swings recorded. We are eagerly expecting to get our video lessons from a Golf Pro! I want to thank The First Tee for giving me the opportunity to go to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, meet many wonderful people, and spend time with my fellow The First Tee participants.