The First Tee Course Reporters at TPC Sawgrass

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May 10, 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 Thursday, May 10:

Hannah Bell Today was awesome at THE PLAYERS Championship and very, very fun!

First, we had the opportunity to interview Billy Shroder, Mac Horton and Phillip Marburger, who all work in player relations. They're the liaison between the TOUR and the players. The players tell them what they like and don't like; it's their job to keep the players happy. Shroder stated that he loves his job. When I asked him why he chose to work for the PGA TOUR, instead of being on the TOUR, he said that playing on the TOUR wasn't his dream. He, instead, choose to do something he loved, rather then something he hates. By making that decision, he is now the Vice President of Player Relations.

I also got to meet Wade Stettner, who is a meteorologist. He told us about a device called the electric field mill, which sends the meteorologist signals and messages about where the wind is blowing. It was very cool!

To end the day, we met Jason Larson, who works for ShotLink. Larson showed us how ShotLink works. There's a device called "The Walking Scorer" that keeps track of all the players' scores. After they calculate and make sure there are no mistakes, they post them to websites and make leader boards for television. He also told us how there are lasers all over the course that tell you how far each player's golf ball is to the pin. I think he has a hard job, but it's very interesting!

After being a Junior Course reporter and experiencing all the amazing things that happen behind-the-scenes, I now want to work for the PGA TOUR when I get older. I want to end by thanking the First Tee of Saint Johns County for giving me the opportunity to do this.

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Prince Cunningham Being a junior course reporter was amazing and today was full of fun. One of the many things we did today was visit Wade Stettner, he is a meteorologist for the PGA TOUR, Nationwide Tour and Champions Tour. He explained what he does and it is very important, without him there would be chaos when it started to rain and players would be in the middle of their round and would not be prepared with rain gear. With a meteorologist players are prepared for rain, fog, strong winds or what ever else mother nature has in store.

Another person I meet today was Jason Larson, he worked in the Shot Link van which was filled with all types of electronics. Shot Link is important because it keeps the score for every player in the field, and it also gets all the yardages for the golf announcers so they can tell the viewers at home.

When we were not interviewing people we were watching the golfers on the course. Today was scorching hot day, but I still enjoyed it. We watched Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and many other people. I enjoyed it because those are some of the best players. Most of them are very down to earth people, even if the hit a bad shot, they would still wave and smile at you, which I think shows good self control. Overall, I had an awesome day even though it felt like 100 degrees.

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Jacob Baldwin Today was a great day. I was able to meet everyone behind the scenes and see how important each team's involvement was in THE PLAYERS Championship. I had the opportunity to visit the media trailers, where the broadcasting for the tournament takes place. The team working in broadcasting explained to us how the tournament is aired throughout the nation, as well as internationally. We were told that this tournament would be aired to over 600 million households worldwide. We talked with George Ameer, who is involved with the international broadcasting for the PGA TOUR. He explained how the coverage of the tournament is sent to other countries through satellites. Each country has their commentators on the site of the tournament. The audio is sent out at different times, then the video and finally they are put in sync by there technicians.

We also had the chance to talk with Billy Shroder, who is the Vice President of Player Relations. He explained how they act as a liaison between the players and the TOUR, they also help with making the rules of the tournament clear with both parties.

Meteorologist Wade Stettner, talked to us about how the tournament directors and staff decide on pin placements and tee setups based on the wind and rain conditions. To plan ahead on future conditions, meteorologists use a device called an electric field mill which is used to determine wind gusts and electricity in clouds.

Our final stop was the ShotLink trailer where we talked with Jason Larson. This is how they obtain information for yardages and scores. He explained how they have about 180 volunteers on the course as scorers and laser pointers. Each hole, with the exception of any par 3 has multiple lasers, for determining yardage to the hole and for length of shots. Overall, this was a fantastic learning experience and I would love to do it again.

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Jake Nelson Today was amazing. Being a course reporter, we were able to talk to people that are behind the scenes and work on getting the course ready for the tournament. Our first interview was with player relations. They talk to the players and ask them about how the course being played and what problems they had with the course or PGA TOUR. We met Billy Shroder, who is the Vice President of Player Relations. Phillip Marburger told us he connected better to the rookies on tour, and Billy explained how he loved the integrity of the game. Mac Horton who worked for both of them also loved the integrity of the game.

The biggest thing that player relations wanted to get across is that the PGA TOUR does a lot to get corporate companies to donate money to different organizations. All three of these men loved their jobs. They all started off on different career paths, but they hated their old jobs and came to the TOUR. They said no one should wake up in the morning and hate there jobs so now they work in player relations and love their jobs and traveling to all the different tournaments.

We then learned about International broadcasting from George Ameer. His job is to help manage the broadcast to the world. This is done by satellites, from Japan to the United Kingdom. There were many monitors broadcasting different channels of the tournament and all the individual players.

Lastly, we met with Jason Larson from ShotLink who has volunteers which helps them tremendously. The volunteers would laser the ball which would tell them how far the player has to the hole. The team from ShotLink would then broadcast the results.

This has been an incredible experience, and just being able to see all the golfers I look up to has been amazing. I want to thank The First Tee for letting me be a junior course reporter and being able to experience THE PLAYERS tournament in a whole new light.

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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