The First Tee Course Reporters

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Fred Couples poses with The First Tee reporters at the Constellation Energy Senior Players.
October 06, 2010
PGA TOUR staff

Editor's note: The First Tee members Kendel Abrams, Khalil Abrams and Wesley Brown will be serving as Course Reporters from Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship. October 7, 2010 My visit to GOLF Channel trailer and more By Khalil Abrams

On our last day here, we went to the SHOTLink trailer and met Cory Konrad in Tournament Operations. He showed us all of the systems and electronics that went into inputting the information into ShotLink. While he taught us the logistics of the trailer and the site, the players simultaneously had their scores transferred on the website in five seconds.

Shortly afterwards, we went to the trailer for the Golf Channel. We saw all the communications behind the scenes. There is a front row and second row of chairs for the Producer, Director, Technical Director, and Associate Director; several of these people listen and give all of the information to another group of people in Orlando, Fla. Their headquarters is located in Orlando, Fla. The Producer figures out what content will be shown on the air next. The Director figures out how it is showed. The Technical Director presses certain buttons to get things shown on the screen and the Associate Director controls what is shown and talks to the people at headquarters to get it on air. There are a lot of screens on one wall that show all the action taking place. This was basically the best part my time here because there was so much involved in getting the people at home the live action quickly.

Besides this, I also enjoyed seeing a new perspective on the tournament. There is so much that goes into getting the golf course in pristine shape and creating an impressive atmosphere for both the people watching on TV and the golfers that play the course. The Commissioner said yesterday a lot of important things that gave me a new perspective on the PGA TOUR. I love the fact that we got to write in the Media Center. Everything was organized and very detailed in the trailers and areas around the course. It was all-around a great learning experience!

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My favorite part of the tournament By Kendel Abrams

On Thursday we traveled first to the SHOTLink trailer to meet Cory Konrad in Tournament Operations. He taught us how volunteers have to carry a handheld operator in a little pouch on their waist to put the scores in. The scores come through a cable and out to a wireless cord through wires inside the trailer. Cory discussed how the accuracy, speed, and wireless technology could improve even more in the future. They set up WiFi throughout the course, too, so the handheld device data can come back to the trailer even if it's far away. PGA TOUR.COM tells you how far the ball traveled and it can tell the number of shots a player took on a hole or how far their ball is from the pin.

Cory also showed us how you can see a biography on a golfer and the player's scorecard at the current time. They also have a graph where it shows what time each golfer took their shot and the time the ball landed after the shot.

Seeing SHOTLINK in action was my favorite part of being at the tournament today! It is definitely an area where I might like to work someday and learn more about.

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Perfect ending at Senior Players By Wes Brown

Today was the first day of competition at the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship and it turned out to be a beautiful day for golf. The day began with visiting the military tent, dubbed "The Birdies for the Brave Patriots' Outpost." This tent is set up for all military members and their families to enjoy golf in a hospitality setting. Birdies for the Brave is an organization supported by the PGA TOUR that gives back to military members and their families. We learned that this organization was originally started by Phil and Amy Mickelson. We watched a little bit of golf out at the Patriots' Outpost. It had a great view of the 18th fairway and green. There was free food and good times for the military men and women. We listened to some of them talk about golf and life stories. The race for first place at the McGladrey Classic is tight with the leader at 3 under par.

After a quick lunch, we went to the Golf Channel truck. It was so cool to see the producers working in the back of a semi-truck. It was very small, but there was a lot inside. They had so many different little camera screens of all the on-course cameras. The coverage started at 1:00 p.m. and they were live through 3:00 p.m. We were able to watch about 15 minutes of live coverage and learn about how each person in the truck contributed to the live show that the viewers see at home.

Later in the afternoon I went out to watch Russ Cochran finish his round. When he completed play I said hello to him, and he smiled and took me inside the ropes to walk to the scoring trailer with him. It was so cool! He let me talk with his son, who is also his caddie, and gave me a golf ball. When Russ returned from turning in his scorecard he signed my hat! Then he walked me back to the media center and headed off to his son. Last but not least, I sat in on Mark O'Meara's press conference. He finished at 2 under par. I said to him, "Yesterday some of the other players were saying that even par would be a great score. At 2 under par, how do you feel?" He answered "If you'd have given me a 2 under par before we teed off on No. 1 today, I'd have pretty much stayed in the clubhouse and eaten those chocolate chip cookies, no question about it. You are right -- anything in the red is a great score." That capped off my last day at the tournament! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ October 6, 2010

Busy first day at Senior Players By Kendel Abrams

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In the morning to start off the first day as a First Tee junior course reporter we waited in the Member's Grill to meet PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem and Executive Vice President of Championship Management David Pillsbury. Once they arrived I asked them what they thought about the Ryder Cup. The commissioner explained that it was exciting to watch the Americans play against the Europeans because the fans were quiet and respected the Americans while they were playing. I also asked him what he expected from his employees if he walked in on a random workday. He responded by saying as long as you have good managers, it doesn't matter if he is there or not, they have a very good team. He also explained that though the current economy affected sponsorships and fans because of the money, they are working their way through it and says he thinks the PGA TOUR is competing well with other sports.

Next we entered the place where we would be eating lunch, and a reporter named Kelly Murray spoke and told us how he works for a magazine called PROS N'HACKERS. He had mentioned always in an article to make sure you cover the five W's -- Who, what, when, where and why. He also told us about his childhood and at the age 13 he lived in an apartment and did so many adventures. He showed us what the magazine looked like and told us what Tiger Woods' given name was: Eldrick! We also met Karen Davidson, a tournament services manager here at the golf course. She taught us how the pro-am draft works.

Then we went to the rules trailer and they told us about what they are responsible for, which is the area inside the ropes of the course. If a golfer is going too slowly they will give them a warning and they have to speed up. If they don't play in that amount of time they have to pay a fine that is a least $2500, all of which all goes to charity. They also have to set out the tee boxes and make sure everything is set up so the golf course is fair and challenging.

We went to a press conference to take notes about Tom Watson and he said, "It was a great success working with the Bruce Edwards ALS fundraising event." He really likes the Baltimore County Club and talks about how it is one of the courses you really feel good playing on. We also went to another press conference to watch Fred Funk speak. I asked him if he could tell me about some charities he supports, and he told us that he supports a lot military charities to raise money and raise awareness for veterans. For our last press conference we met Fred Couples who now has a partnership with Jaguar and it is a three-year contract, he is very excited by working with them. The Jaguar Company is trying to expand the marketing business across the country to allow the brand to grow.

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Great experiences at three big press conferences By Khalil Abrams

As the day started, we met Annie at 9:00 and she took us on a golf cart to go to the media center. The media center is basically an area for the media to work throughout the day, it is their home base. Also, there is an interview room that looks exactly like a press conference that you would see on TV where pros are interviewed. First, we met the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR Tim Finchem. He is very optimistic on the upcoming season and the present season, as well. The current economy has affected sponsorships because it has recently been harder to get companies and fans to give out money when wallets are tight. Although times are tough, he still has overall feeling that the organization is having success right now. He believes the PGA TOUR has competed very well with other sports, and has had a more competitive level than 15-20 years ago. Unlike most commissioners, his job is a little bit easier because he has great people that operate and, or manage certain situations that would usually be something he would have to take care of.

His thoughts on the recent Ryder Cup were that he was excited to see players from his TOUR compete with European players because of the emotions the fans gave during the fierce tournament. Today is a new day for the U.S. because our country is competing together. At this year's Senior Players Championship, the renovations and the players input into the course's design were emphasized to please them while playing on the course.

After that, we had breakfast with a writer for the Pros N' Hackers magazine, Kelly Murray, who was here to reports some of today's news for the magazine. Luckily for him, he was asked to caddie for one of the golfers that would be playing today. While we were eating, we met Karen Davidson, a tournament services manager for the PGA TOUR. We began our way outside the media center to find the rules officials. Their job is to help the golfers know where hazards are on the course and notify them what to do in those situations. A recent example would be the incident involving Dustin Johnson and his practice shot through a questionable "unmarked bunker." Besides that, they have to manage the course setup; where the tees are placed or holes on the green as well as giving out penalties to players that don't comply with the "pace of play." While in the rules trailer, we met the Chief Meteorologist at the event, Willis Young, who determines what the weather is going to be like during the tournament. The difference between him and local TV channel forecaster is that he has to travel to tons of different places and uses a weather radar to identify the upcoming storms, rain, etc.

In terms of press conferences we heard Tom Watson, a big First Tee supporter who is seasoned veteran. He first talked about an event he came from the other day, the Bruce Edwards ALS fundraising event that was at Caves Valley Golf Course in Owings Mills, Md. He thinks the change of venue from last year's event will challenge him. He used the quote "ignorance is bliss," which means not knowing something is often better than knowing. He used to play 22-23 events every year in his early years as a pro golfer but is now trying to do less. He has played three big PGA TOUR tournaments, one which was the U.S. Open. Fred Funk was also at the podium, talking about the course design. He says the course looks fantastic, but playing there is difficult and suggests that the third hole tee be moved back. He loves the 10th hole on the course. Finally, the last press conference we went to was for Fred Couples and he teased us a little bit by telling us to ask him questions because of our operations today. But, before that, Jaguar Cars announced a three-year partnership deal between him and their company at the press conference! I had never seen such an announcement before in my life. Couples will sponsor them by having their logo on his golf bag and will be seen driving three new Jaguar sports cars. What a great day to be out of school.

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Can't wait to see what's in store for tomorrow By Wesley Brown

The first day at the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship has only cool weather and possible storms serving as stress for caddies and players. As I settled into the media center and was setting up my things, the schedule was laid out and the room was packed. We were doing everything from meeting players to talking to meteorologist and rules officials. I could not wait to start my day and do what I love.

The day started with a meeting with Tim Finchem, the PGA TOUR Commissioner. He was really nice and answered questions. The main one asked was "has the economy affected sponsors at tournaments?" "Yes", he said. "We have been successful due to players' performance. The reason it is a tough market is that companies are throwing out less money for charities." Then after that we came to the media center to attend press conferences with Tom Watson and Fred Funk. Tom had just gotten back from a charity event in Owings Mills, Md. Fred Funk is from Maryland and with the tournament so close to home after asking him what winning would be like, he said "It would be great because I have been as close as third and haven't won it. It would mean a lot to win here".

Blogger Biographies
Khalil Abrams
Abrams, a freshman at Susquehannock High in Glen Rock, Pa., has been on the honor roll and received a perfect attendance award while at Southern Middle. He enjoys playing sports and attending various sporting events. Playing golf for six years, he has been a participant of the First Tee of Baltimore since 2009. He plays golf at Clifton Park Golf Course and Forest Park Golf Course in Baltimore, Md. He played in several tournaments including the U.S. Kids Golf Tournament at Chesapeake Bay County Club, Jimmy Flattery Jr. Golf Tournament at Hunt Valley Country Club, Baltimore Municipal Jr. Golf Tournament at Forest Park Golf Course, and the First Tee Paragon Jr. Golf Tournament at Clifton Park Golf Course. Aside from golf, he has participated in football, basketball and tennis. He worked as a caddie for the Baltimore Country Club this summer and is currently working at Caves Valley Golf Club.
Kendel Abrams
Abrams, a fifth grader at Southern Elementary in Glen Rock, Pa., has consistently been on the honor roll. Playing golf for three years, she joined the First Tee of Baltimore in 2009. She plays golf at Clifton Park Golf Course and Forest Park Golf Course in Baltimore, Md. This year, she won second place at both the US Kids Golf Tournament at Chesapeake Bay Country Club and First Tee Paragon Jr. Golf Tournament at Clifton Park Golf Course. She also won first place at the Jimmy Flattery Jr. Golf Tournament at Hunt Valley Country Club. She plays fullback on the Mason Dixon Soccer U12 travel team and is a power forward on the Susquehannock Youth Travel Basketball team. She also plays cello for her schools orchestra.
Wesley Brown
Brown, 14, is a freshman at Marriotts Ridge High School in Marriottsville, Md. He is a member of the golf team. He has been in the First Tee program since the age of 8. He has completed through the eagle level. His favorite coach is coach Eddie Stup, a great young coach who connects with his students. His favorite thing about golf is the many friendships developed through his First Tee experiences. He plans to play college golf and one day hopes to work as a sports journalist, possibly reporting on golf.

As players started to finish a lot of people were in and out of the Media Center. We had a press conference with Fred Couples. He announced his new three-year deal with Jaguar Cars North America. He will be driving three different models, the XJ, XF, and XK - all that fit two sets of golf clubs. As the day winded down and the last players finished, things settled down. I can't wait to see what is in store for tomorrow.

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