FedEx TOUR Championship Junior Reporter

First Tee of Atlanta participants, Monica Davis and Kyle Jackman were junior reporters for the 2013 FedEx TOUR Championship.  See their blogs below.

 

September 18, 2013 - Day 1 at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola

By: Monica Davis, The First Tee of Atlanta Junior On Course Reporter

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The sunny skies and the cool breeze greeted me as I arrived at the practice round for the 2013 Tour Championship by Coca-Cola. I already anticipated this as being an interesting and enjoyable day. Once we arrived we headed to the Media Center where all the journalists would be during the event. I was anxious for what was in store for me this day. The first thing I did on this mission was attend a 9 a.m. press conference with the No.2 golfer in the world, Adam Scott. While in the conference, Mr. Scott was frequently asked about his previous performances in tournaments to now. He went on to state, “I was frustrated and disappointed in my performance in big events for most of my career and I identified that I really needed to change something.” This was a great experience to be able to see a great player I periodically see on television, actually in person!

While strolling along this beautiful course, we ran into Tiger Woods’ caddie Joe LaCava. While speaking with him, he described Tiger as being a fierce competitor and a down to earth man. Later on we got the chance to sit front row for the Tiger Woods press conference and I have to admit seeing him was the highlight of my day. Sitting literally a few feet away from the greatest golfer in the world and hearing him speak on all the trials and tribulations he’s been through and how he overcame them was a true inspiration. During the time I was working, I got the opportunity to speak with popular writer Doug Ferguson from Associated Press. He took the time to answer the several questions we had and he enjoyed speaking with us. Doug is a very nice man and has a great sense of humor.

Overall, this was a very successful day and I had a magnificent time. I got to see and hear a little bit of everything from sitting in on several press conferences, meeting several golfers’ caddies, to even meeting the CEO of The First Tee, Mr. Joe L. Barrow. This was an opportunity of a lifetime and I will cherish this moment forever.

September 19, 2013 - Day 2: Tour Championship by Coca-Cola
By: Monica Davis, The First Tee of Atlanta Junior On Course Reporter

On the second day of being a First Tee Course Reporter, the day began with visiting the beautiful clubhouse, filled with amazing historic antiques. There, we met General Manager Rick Burton and he allowed us to ask him several questions. He spoke about how his job is difficult but after the first group tees off, everything becomes a piece of cake from there. He went on to mention how he is responsible for hundreds of workers that are necessary to run the golf club. especially during this tournament. Later we ran into Peter Candler, the Vice Chairman of Facilities for The TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. It was interesting meeting him because he is also the President of The First Tee of Atlanta Board of Directors and plays a big role in our program! In 1997, he and several friends help raise $2 million to start what we now call The First Tee of Atlanta. After all of that, we made our way to the Chevron S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Zone, where we ran into the team from Sirius XM Radio. Here, we were able to sit in on one of their live calls, which was so much fun! In the S.T.E.M. Zone, there were demonstrations that taught us a little about aerodynamics and how dimples on the golf ball actually play an important role. Our coach then set us up to speak with Sean Howland from Shotlink. We went to the Shotlink truck and spoke with him about his job and how everything on the Shotlink truck functioned. The Shotlink system is a mechanism for collecting and spreading information widely based on every shot by every player. Seeing all of that was very neat! It was so cool that we were able to learn from and see some of the team members prepare for everything.

From there, we were off to the opening ceremony of the 2013 Tour Championship. There was a remarkable commemoration that included Military personnel, lovely singing, and a ceremonial tee-shot by Dow Finsterwald and The First Tee of East Lake participant Kayla McClendon. After eating the fabulous food catered to us in the media center, we were able to meet up with Jim Griffel, the Senior Director of Broadcasting for the PGA Tour. Once introduced, he took us inside the truck where all the magic happens! To be such a small area, it was filled with over 20 televisions and several workers. It was so neat seeing all the work they were doing and footage from all of the cameras posted around the entire course. On the way back we made it just in time to see two popular players, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott, tee-off. It was amazing! We got the chance to follow them throughout a few holes and see them perform very well.
Overall I have had an amazing time and I’m glad that I was able to take part in this opportunity of a lifetime.

 

September 18, 2013 - Day 1 at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola

By: Kyle Jackman, The First Tee of Atlanta Junior On Course Reporter

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It was the perfect overcast day at East Lake golf course with a beautiful breeze and stunning scenery. The Tour Championship sponsored by Coca-Cola is holding a season-ending tournament for the world’s top 30 golfers competing for the prize of 8 million dollars. My day started out with a brief tour of the course and where everything was located by our mentor Chris Millard an avid writer for Golf World and Golf Digest Magazine. We began in the parking lots where each player had their own assigned parking spot. BMW is a big sponsor of the PGA Tour and gives each player a complimentary car to drive for the week. It was surprising to see how well the best players in the world get treated.

 Inside of the Media Center there were many of the top sports and news stations in the world that broadcast and write to millions of people across the world. It gave me a sense of how important each person’s job was to contributing towards many different stories that go on television, radio, newspapers, and magazines. We received our chance to meet and interview Doug Ferguson the Associate Press correspondent for golf, his job was to write full reports on golf events for newspapers and magazines that are not able to send their own reporters out to research and write. His job has taken a huge impact on his life, but he loves what he does even though it is a 24/7 time consuming job. Mr. Ferguson gave us an explanation of what it is like to have such an important job as his.

“It is scary to have to write for so many people, it requires me to be very cautious,” Ferguson said.

I also got a chance to interview Joe LaCava, Tiger Woods' caddy. LaCava had been Fred Couples 'caddy for 21 years before he became Tiger’s new caddy. LaCava and Woods formed a strong bond over the last two years, sharing many sports rivalries along with strong golf knowledge. He talked about how after a bad hole, he and Tiger would always go back and discuss his shots and correct them to try and not make the same mistakes as before. I also got to sit in on an actual press conference and become part of the press and ask Tiger a question about what motivates him and does he play for the challenge, or does he play for the excitement.

“It’s both. To me, the challenge of just trying to pull off a shot and the challenge to try and beat all the guys in the field is exciting for me,” Woods said.

The experience of being able to meet and talk to Tiger was phenomenal and it was easy to find out he is just like any regular guy, but with a God given talent for the game of golf.

Julian Trudell gave us an inside look of what a caddy does more than just carry around bags all day. The caddy has to go back out and reexamine each hole to find out where the pins would be and calculate slope and grain. Trudell played a lot of golf before he became a caddy. At one point,  he was ranked number 32 in the world and placed 7th in the FedEx Cup.  After our learning experience with Mr. Trudell, we went over to meet the CEO of the First Tee, Joe Louis Barrow.  Mr. Barrow is  a very inspiring man who allows me to be able to have the opportunities that I receive from The First Tee, along with Mrs. Hawkins and all of my coaches.  

I cannot wait to experience the events that will go on tomorrow during the Opening Ceremony. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and experienced an opportunity of a lifetime today at the East Lake Golf Course.

September 19, 2013 - Day 2: Tour Championship by Coca-Cola Reporter
By: Kyle Jackman, The First Tee of Atlanta Junior On Course Reporter

My second day at East Lake Golf Club began with us touring the inside of the historic clubhouse. Inside of the clubhouse is where the players spend a lot of time once they are on the tournament’s grounds. There was a player family dining area where the players families were being served breakfast and were able to relax before the tee times. The lobby of the clubhouse housed many of the trophies from many different tournaments, starting back from when Bobby Jones played up to now to Tiger Woods. Upstairs in the clubhouse was where the players had their locker rooms; there were two female locker rooms and 2 male locker room and inside of each, there was a lounge area just for players. The most fascinating thing was being able to meet Rick Burton, the man in charge of the entire golf club and helps in hosting the tournament itself. Burton is the General Manager of East Lake Golf Club.  He explained the all the hard work put into putting on such an important event at East Lake.

“I have a lot of work, I have at least 100 people working for me and it all requires feeding the players, family, and managing,” said Burton.

Once the opening ceremonies rolled through and the first tee shot was hit, all of the rest of the day would fall into place Burton explained. Upon leaving the clubhouse, we walked into Peter Candler, the President of the First Tee of Atlanta Board of Directors and Vice Chairman of Facilities for The Tour Championship. As Vice Chairman of Facilities, he is in charge of handling all of the transportation, parking, and supply distribution for major events which requires a lot of hard work. Mr. Candler played golf for over 65 years and his love for the game keeps him working around it constantly. He has been a big part of contributing towards major sports in Atlanta; he helped to get the Olympics in 1996 to come to Atlanta. From there, we walked the course over towards the Chevron STEM ZONE (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), which was designed to show kids the science behind sports and golf. We had a chance to meet Sirius XM PGA TOUR radio broadcasters and I had a chance to listen in on a live radio broadcast on the weather for the upcoming week during the championship.

Our next interview was with Sean Howland, who worked with ShotLink, the software that keeps scores, yardage distances, player info, and stats on each player. ShotLink has their own truck that expands and becomes a full work area that had databases and computers that help calculate where each player hit their balls and how far the distance was. A big part in making ShotLink work are the volunteers that are trained from tournament to tournament. In these roles, the volunteers go out with high tech equipment on the course and set up each piece of equipment that allows the producers and directors inside of the truck to calculate what happens on the course. For Mr. Howland and his full time staff, their job requires them to be on the road for 202 days out of the year because of them having to continuously pack up and travel to the next event once one is over.

At 10:45 am the opening ceremonies began it started out with the national anthem and two soldiers parachuting down onto the first tee and then with two first tee shots from Dow Finsterwald and Kayla McClendon, a fellow First Tee member. After the ceremonies, we went over to the broadcast stations to meet Jim Griffel, who is the Senior Director of Broadcasting for PGA Tour. He talked to us about what really goes on behind the scenes in a broadcasting truck. As a Director, his job is being the illustrator and talking to the cameramen to tell them how to frame up their shots, and also call out which cameras to switch to. I really enjoyed going inside of the truck and seeing all of the 21 screens there were that monitored all of the course and players.

My time here at the East Lake Golf Club as a First Tee reporter will be one of my most memorable and fortunate experiences. Thanks to The First Tee for giving me the opportunity to come out and meet so many different people and have a great learning experience. Lastly, I would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins at the First Tee of Atlanta for this great opportunity all of my coaches including coach Jenae Jenkins for serving as my mentor. I enjoyed my time here fully and hope for another experience like this to come soon.