The First Tee Course Reporters: Senior Players

Brad Faxon was among the many players the Junior Course Reporters met during their first day at the Constellation Engery Senior Players Championship.
August 18, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

Editor's note: Jack Kane, Sadie Martinez and Ryan Kerley will be serving as Junior Course Reporters for the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship this week.

Day 1-Senior Players Championship by Jack Kane As I sit here writing my blog, I am still overwhelmed by the appearance of a star-studded cast. I just sat in on press conferences for golf icons Tom Watson and Fred Couples and can't think of a single word to describe our day besides stunning.

We were met at the front gate of Westchester Country Club with a warm welcome and an exciting schedule set for us. We set off on our journey and our first stop was with Ken Biggerstaff, the trainer and physical therapist who travels with the Champions Tour and with the PGA TOUR. He works with all the players, recommending food selection on the course and treats their injuries with therapeutic massages and other rehab exercises. The former 40 year trainer in the MLB now thoroughly enjoys his position and currently resides in Pittsburgh.

After making a stop in the weather station, we headed off to the Champions Tour nerve center. There we met Okalahoma native Jenny Eckert who took us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the trailer and showed us how demanding this job could be. They are responsible for the scores on television, the web, and on all of the live scoreboards around the course. If someone makes a mistake, everyone sees it. They are on the road 26 weeks a year and serve as the glue that keeps each Champions Tour event together.

But far and away, the best moment of the day was sitting in on the press conferences of golf legends Tom Watson and Fred Couples. It was nerve racking to be in the presence of greatness. You could feel the aura that they were radiating throughout the room. Mr. Watson talked about his favorite hot dog; his favorite place is right on the golf course. He will only put mustard on this hot dog because he doesn't want to "ruin it." We all found this very funny and it set the mood in a way.

This was the best day of my life from a golfing standpoint. I am eternally grateful and look forward to attending more events with The First Tee in the future.

Day 1-Senior Players Championship by Sadie Martinez Today was not an ordinary day. I woke up at 5 am to make a quick hour and a half trip to Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y. Over a week ago I had filled out an application to be a Junior Course Reporter with The First Tee at this week's Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship. Little did I know that I would wind up in the same media room as Tom Watson. My day has been filled with many new and overwhelming experiences.

Besides watching golf, I got a tour of the Westchester Country Club. To describe how beautiful Westchester Country Club facilities were, I would have to say that if I had been asleep for 100 years like Rip Van Winkle and awoke here, I would wake up asking if I was in a castle in England. As I entered the club house, the atmosphere immediately changed into a rich feeling of comfort. It was certainly paradise on earth.

I was accompanied all day with two other young people from The First Tee and a PGA TOUR staff member who gave us the behind the scenes experience of what its like to be a member of the media. We first stopped by the physical fitness/trainer's trailer. This trailer was where all the players went to workout before or after their rounds of golf. I was given the chance to ask the trainer, Ken Biggerstaff, a few questions. I was really interested in finding out how the players' eating habits were while they played and before they played. Ken said that they suggest what the players should consume, which was half a peanut butter sandwich on the seventh hole and another half later in the round.

After we left the fitness trailer, we walked over to the meteorologist's office, home to Willis Young. Mr. Young was in charge of paying attention to the radar and letting the officials know when bad weather was coming. I asked Mr. Young how the recent rains in New York could affect the golf course. He responded that, "The recent rains caused the course to become very muddy and the fact that we had such hot days earlier in the summer turned the golf course into a complete mess." This is Mr. Young's 14th year with the PGA TOUR.

The last trailer that we visited and got a tour of was the Champions Tour truck where all scores were sent to and posted online within seconds of the shot. Jenny Eckert was our guide for this part of our day and showed us how the scores were received by the truck. The groups of players each had score bearers that carried devices with them, called trembles. After each shot they would enter the stroke into their scoring device. By the end of the hole, the amount of strokes would then travel through cables and currents that would end up immediately online.

Although visiting and learning about all the trailers was pretty cool, my favorite part of the day came when I sat in the front row of three awesome press conferences. First was Fred Couples, captain of the U.S. Presidents Cup Team. I asked Mr. Couples what he had planned for the next couple of weeks in order to prepare for the Presidents Cup. He said, "I'll be in Seattle and I am definitely watching the Barclays, and looking out for players." In addition, I asked him if he had maybe thought about picking Keegan Bradley for the team. Mr. Couples responded that, "Keegan is very high on my list; he had no points last year and he is a very good player, if he doesn't make the team he will be high up on my list."

The following player that I had a chance to ask a question to was Tom Lehman. I asked Mr. Lehman about rookie Keegan Bradley who won his first major in his first appearance last week. He said, "It was quite a performance because who would think someone who triple-bogeyed the 15th hole would end up winning a major?" After Mr. Lehman left came the extraordinary Tom Watson. Mr.Watson was very nice to all three of us and even talked about his The First Tee classes back at home. I asked Mr. Watson what his toughest and easiest components of golf were when he was 16 years old. Mr. Watson responded, "Driving was always a little bad considering I never was sure if it was going to go straight, putting was definitely the easiest. I was really good at putting."

I had a blast today and got an inside scoop on how cool it is to work for the PGA TOUR and its affiliates. I can now say that journalism is something I am really interested in pursuing. I loved watching golf, but most importantly I enjoyed the fact that I received this opportunity because of The First Tee and the PGA TOUR.

Day 1-Senior Players Championship by Ryan Kerley How many kids have the chance to go behind the scenes at a Champions Tour event? I would say not that many, but I was one of the lucky ones. Thanks to The First Tee, I had the special opportunity to go to The Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship as a Junior Course Reporter. I never thought that this would translate into having a conversation with the legendary Tom Watson!

Today I did many exciting things; I had the chance to go behind the scenes of this major event at Westchester Country Club, accompanied by two fellow members of The First Tee. We started off by setting up 'headquarters' at the media center. To get the most out of the day, we didn't waste any time, and started off to the course. We first met a man name Ken Biggerstaff , a trainer and physical therapist for all the Champions Tour players. He is a former MLB trainer who works on the Champions Tour as a retirement job. Ken showed us around the fitness trailer that players go to for workouts. He explained to us the importance of working on strength, balance, and flexibility. Rotation activities are especially important for older players. We said our goodbyes to Ken and went on with our day.

We then went over to the huge clubhouse to meet the Champions Tour's Chief Meteorologist Willis Young, who at the time was looking at wind patterns for the day. He showed us the office he is working out of for the week and even told us about a tornado that struck the golf course in the middle of a round a few years ago! Sadly, he predicts that some rain may hit the area this coming weekend. The course is already really wet, so let's hope it doesn't.

After our look in the weather room, we went to the Champions Tour operations trailer. Jenny Eckert, an Oklahoma native, showed us the important jobs that go on there. The workers in the truck are in complete control of the scores recorded every day of the tournament. Those recorded scores are sent out to the course scoreboards, the internet, and even the television networks that broadcast the event. We watched Jenny solve all the walking scorers problems with their handheld devices. Although they are on the road an awful lot, they all love their jobs. Next week they are going to Snoqualmie, Wash. for the Boeing Classic.

My favorite part of the day was still to come. We took part in the press conferences of Fred Couples, Tom Lehman, and Tom Watson. When I asked Tom Lehman how his swing has changed from when he was my age to now, he answered by telling me how he fixed his hook that he hit as a kid, and that the best way to be successful in golf is to "define what you do well and perfect it." Tom Watson's answer to my question helped me with the way I plan to prepare for my tournaments as I get older. He told me to play a couple of practice rounds and play like it's a normal round.

Today was exactly what I was looking for; I was able to do everything I wanted to do, and then some. I am very lucky that I was chosen for this opportunity of a lifetime. I can seriously say that I am now thinking of working for the PGA TOUR when I get older.




Jack Kane Jack Kane is an 8th grade honor student at McGee Middle School in Berlin, Conn. He plays soccer, basketball, baseball and golf and has participated in The First Tee program since he was nine years old. Currently playing on The First Tee Eagle Team, Jack has also participated in several Connecticut Junior PGA events, winning the 2010 Junior PGA Championship -- Connecticut Section for the 12 & Under division. He has enjoyed volunteering in assisting the instructors at The First Tee Par classes, at the PGA TOUR's Travelers Championship, at the Walmart First Tee Open for The First Tee of Connecticut, and at The First Tee of Fairfield County Charity Classic. His involvement with The First Tee program also afforded him the opportunity to play with Roland Thatcher in the Golf Digest Junior Pro-Am at the 2009 Travelers Championship. Jack currently plays out of Shuttle Meadow Country Club in Kensington, Conn. under the tutelage of PGA Professional Tim Gavronski and carries a USGA handicap index of 5.5.


Sadie Martinez Sadie, 16, is a junior at Northwest Catholic High school in West Hartford, Conn. where she acts as the prosecuting attorney on her school's mock trial team and is a member of the girls varsity golf team. She has been the secretary of her class for the past two years and hopes to run for Student Council President this year. Sadie has been a youth volunteer at the Hebrew Hospital where her father works since 2006.

Growing up, golf became one of her major interests after picking it up at the age of seven with The First Tee of Connecticut. She has recently been working very hard to fulfill her hopes of playing at the collegiate level.

This summer has been filled with amazing opportunities for Sadie, which she credits to The First Tee. She was chosen to play in the Travelers Championship Celebrity Pro-Am, where she was paired with Brad Faxon. In June, she attended the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy at Hilton Head, where she spent an entire week playing golf for nine hours a day.


Ryan Kerley Ryan Kerley is a member of The First Tee of Mosholu in the Bronx, N.Y. He has been a member for seven years and is Birdie Certified. Ryan was a member of the interclub team for 2011 and has been actively involved in the regular and summer programs at the Lew Rudin centre at the Bronx location. He enjoys all sports including soccer, basketball and gaelic football.