The First Tee Course Reporters at TPC Sawgrass

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May 09, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

The First Tee Junior Course Reporters will be sharing their observations from TPC Sawgrass this week during THE PLAYERS Championship. Here are their submissions from Wednesday, May 9:

Amelia Kewitt The First Tee PwC Challenge Hole was the site of The First Tee showdown between their St. John's County chapter and their Jacksonville Chapter on Tuesday, May 8, 2012. The participants gathered excitedly to try their best to hit a shot on the green with hopes of it staying there and not rolling into the water. Money was the prize for each chapter.

The event began with a great talk hosted by Kelly Tilghman from Golf Channel. Everyone caught her energy as she introduced speakers and PGA TOUR golfer Ricky Barnes along with professional golfer and sportscaster, Gary Koch . These two men would help win money for the two teams. PwC also sent their finest golfer, Jay Henderson, to help the cause. The rules were explained; $25 if the ball went in the water, $50 for a ball on the green, and $100 if it made it within a 3-foot circle around the hole. A hole in one was worth $500.

The St John's team came out sporting their blue hats, and Jacksonville was sporting their red hats. Everyone lined up and took their turn to earn money for their chapter. There was so much enthusiasm as their teammates rooted them on. Some really great shots were hit and a lot of money was earned for the First Tee. Both chapters ended up receiving a $7,500 dollar donation from PwC! This challenge was full of excitement and fun for the 160+ present from the First Tee chapters. It was truly a great experience for the kids. I couldn't help but notice after all the kids had gone inside the Stadium Village to get their ice cream a certain newscaster couldn't help himself and tried the Challenge Hole . Brent Martino was successful in getting one shot to stay on the green. Good job, Brent!

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Chase Killette Today was a great day at THE PLAYERS Championship. This time, instead of walking around wondering how the tournament is put together, I found out what goes on behind the scenes. I started my morning off by going to the FCA breakfast. I learned about the lives of some of the professional golfers, and saw a short video on K.J Choi.

After that wonderful experience I made my way to TPC Sawgrass. I met up with my group leader and some of the kids who were with me from The First Tee. We tried out some of the new technology at the Player Experience tent and even were able to sit in an army truck, displayed for military appreciation day.

Something that really was exciting was to look at Nick Watney, a professional golfer, give out awards to some of the people who fight for what America stands for. After that great experience we had a short interview with the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR. We didn't really ask a lot of questions, but he sure had a lot to tell us.

My favorite place that we went the whole day was the TaylorMade truck. Wade Lyles gave me a R11 TaylorMade hat. I also experienced two interviews from the Commissioner and David Toms. Those two guys were great with the questions that they were asked and handled the press very well. I was also able to see one of my favorite golfers: Keegan Bradley. He is so awesome! All in all I had a great day being a junior course reporter, and if I have a chance, I might just do it again.

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Chris Hollandsworth "Wow," was all I could say about being a course reporter at THE PLAYERS. I had so much fun with Alexis, Catie and Robert as my mentors. We went to many places, with the other course reporters, and we had a lot of behind the scenes access. We visited the media center, fitness truck, were able to interview the commissioner and went to the Birdies for the Brave Patriots Outpost.

The first stop was the Birdies for the Brave Patriots Outpost, from being there last year it looked a lot nicer. The commissioner gave his speech to all the military and their families and some of the wounded warriors received gifts. After that we interviewed Commissioner Tim Finchem. He was a very interesting man and he told us what he did as commissioner and we asked him questions. We also got to chat with the tournament director, Matt Rapp.

After lunch we attended David Toms press conference. I was shocked to see how much stuff they had just in just a small room. It was a short interview, and then we had the chance to go in the fitness trailer. It was full of treadmills, ellipticals and weights. The trainers explained how they train each individual player. They find out what there weakness is and then work on ways to improve.

One of my favorite parts was the TaylorMade truck. Inside was all everything for making a golf club. We were able to see them make a three wood and they showed us all the necessary steps to fix a head of a golf club and replace it. The workers there and even gave us a hat.

Later, we went to the commissioner's conference and after we started blogging. Overall I had a wonderful time I recommend this to anyone who is interested in the sport of golf and I hope I can come back next year.

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Hannah Bell During my first day as a Junior Course Reporter I was able to meet a lot of important and interesting people and it didn't hurt that the course was in great condition today. The nice, cool breeze with the sun shining right above us was very calming. David Toms even thought the course was gorgeous as he said, "I wish I could play a course like this every week." Matt Rapp, who is the director of this tournament, said that it takes 18 months to prepare for this tournament.

One of the first things I was able to do was to meet Commissioner Tim Finchem and witness a press conference for David Toms.

Afterwards, when we went to tour the fitness trailer, Digby said he has worked there for eleven years and that his job is to help keep the players in good shape. He said that they get around 5 to 75 players in his trailer everyday.

Wade Lyles, who works for TaylorMade, has possibly the coolest job ever. He gets to make putters, drivers, hybrids, irons, and basically all things golf clubs. He told me that it takes 5 minutes to make a golf club that could cost around $25-$2500 dollars! His trailer was like an emergency vehicle for golf clubs. He had every kind of shaft, head, and grip you could think of. He even gave me a pink hat to keep!

To end this blog, I would say that being able to walk into "media only" areas made me feel like a real reporter. This was an awesome experience and I am very excited about coming back tomorrow!

God Bless

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Jacob Baldwin Today I discovered a lot about the PGA TOUR and all the work and effort that goes into making a professional tournament successful. The work done by the tournament directors, the club, companies and players, all made for a fantastic learning experience.

For the past six years, the PGA TOUR has awarded a wounded Veteran an honorary membership to a prestigious club. Today the PGA TOUR awarded Michael McCombs with a free membership to TPC Boston. McCombs, a wounded warrior suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, spoke of his dream to become a PGA Teaching Professional. Nick Watney personally handed over the members badges and other retired military members were given gifts from Dell.

I had the privilege today to sit in on multiple press conferences, one of which was from Commissioner Tim Finchem where he talked of the current affairs of the PGA TOUR and about the First Tee's campaign to reach out to ten million young people. The PGA TOUR has made a goal of reaching one hundred million dollars by October, to help The First Tee reach out to those kids and help in building new facilities throughout the nation. He talked about how the ratings of a tournament, come Sunday, are 30 percent higher than last year. He also stated that the TOUR is doing very well, despite tough economic times.

During the press conference Tim Finchem also explained how today was an important day for The First Tee. It marked the beginning of a long term partnership between them, and the company Johnson & Johnson. The First Tee has multiple founding partners including the PGA TOUR, but Johnson & Johnson is the first legacy partner. Michael Sneed, the vice president of the company, talked about how they have been involved with multiple organizations, and have contributed approximately a half billion dollars. Johnson & Johnson, being a family oriented business, feels that The First Tee and they are a perfect match.

Course Reporter Biographies
The First Tee of St. John's County
Hannah Bell, who is fourteen years old, lives in Saint Augustine with her parents, three brothers and three dogs. Her interests include playing golf, practicing piano and performing arts. She has been an active participant at The First Tee of Saint John's County for the past six years and is currently assisting in volunteering and mentoring elementary and middle school students on a weekly basis. Her long term goals are to eventually work in the communications field and she is really looking forward to her experience as a junior course reporter.
Jacob Baldwin was born in St. Petersburg. He currently lives in Palm Coast. Jacob is a junior and enrolled in a home school program. He has been playing golf for more than eight years, which started while living in North Carolina when he was a member of the WNCJGA. After moving to Florida, in 2007, he joined the St Johns chapter of First Tee. Currently Jacob is at the eagle level and has participated in many First Tee events. He is a member of the Volusia Flagler Junior Golf Tour for 2011 and 2012 and also the North Florida Junior Golf Tour for 2012. He played for the 2011 Matanzas golf team, and will continue through the upcoming 2012 season. His home course is Palm Harbor Golf Club in Palm Coast where he also presently employed.
The First Tee of Jacksonville
Chase Killette has been a participant at The First Tee of Jacksonville for seven years. He enjoys hanging out with his friends on the golf course and playing basketball. Chase also enjoys volunteering with the younger participants at The First Tee of Jacksonville.
Chris Hollandsworth has been a participant at The First Tee of Jacksonville for three years. He became involved through their Military Affiliate Program. Chris began as a participant at Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville. After attending The First Tee program on-base, he started attending programming at The First Tee of Jacksonville on Saturdays as well. Chris is an outstanding leader amongst his peers and participates in the golf and life skills program three times per week.
Jake Nelson has been a participant at The First Tee of Jacksonville for six years. He plays on his high school golf team at Bolles, and enjoys school. Jake has participated in two of The First Tee participant opportunities, The First Tee Hank Haney Golf School and also attended the Life Skills & Leadership Academy at ASU.
Prince Cunningham has been a participant at The First Tee of Jacksonville for five years. He has a passion for golf and is a member of the National Jr. Honor Society. In his spare time Prince loves to work on his golf game and compete with his fellow First Tee participants.

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