Participant Spotlight: Junior Course Reporters

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Last week, during the U.S. Women’s Open, six of The First Tee’s participants had the opportunity of a lifetime to serve as junior course reporters during championship Saturday.  Led by the USGA, they visited all media locations at the Country Club of Charleston, including the Fox television set, USGA Live set, media center, and even spent time inside the ropes at the practice facility!  Participants wrote about their experiences, and you can read about this amazing day from each perspective below:

AVERY – Advanced PLAYer level, age 11

Hi, My name is Avery and I’m from Ladson,SC  and I have been playing golf for about 9 years!  I am involved in private golf lessons, First Tee, LPGA Girls Golf, PGA Jr League, Drive Chip and Putt, and Competitive Tournaments. One day my goal is to be an LPGA player. Now, I would like to tell you about my experience today as a junior reporter!

It was a beautiful day in Charleston,SC it was 91 degrees when I got to the Country Club of Charleston. I was greeted by the Assistant Director of Marketing Kelly Grant. She was very nice and professional. She walked us all up hole #1, the first thing I saw were the plush green fairways! This is the best course I have ever been on.  Ms. Grant explained all the media stuff that was going on around the fairways, Greens, and other parts of the golf course.

Then we made our way over to the media center where we were introduced to Mr. Dave who was the Director of Media/Broadcasting for the USGA.  He explained all the jobs and all the hard work that it takes to be in the golf media department. He also explained how many engineers it takes to set up all the fiber optics around the course, and that the engineers are the most important job position. There are over 200 engineers on the course setting up for the tournament. Then he explained that they must be very careful setting up all the fiber optics due to the players safety and for the safety of the spectators also.  Lastly, while we were in the media center, I got to sit in the players conference chair where they do interviews!

Then finally, we went over to the practice driving range where we got to meet an LPGA pro-golfer, Amanda Hollandsworth! She was very polite and told us about her experience on the golf course. But what I thought was amazing, is that she only turned pro 5 DAYS AGO!  After that I asked her a few questions, I asked her who or what made her want to start playing golf, she said that her older sister played golf and always wanted to follow in her older sister’s foot steps. Then I asked her who her favorite PGA or LPGA golfer was, she said she always loved Stacy Lewis because she was a good role model to younger and older generations.  Lastly I got to take a photo with her! I hope to see her at more golf events in the future!

Finally, we went back to the junior tent, and our guide Ms. Grant gave all the juniors vouchers for free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream! I had so much fun and I would most certainly do it again!  I also recommend this to any junior who are interested!

CADE – Birdie level, age 12

My experience being a Junior Reporter at the US Women’s Open Championship was awesome! A few reasons why are: I got to have an inside look at how all the action is broadcast into homes around the world; I got to see how the reporters and announcers/analysts cover the entire golf course and report breaking news; and finally, I got to go inside the ropes at the driving range and meet pro golfer, Amanda Hollingsworth.

A golf course is a big place. Some can be up to 7,000 yards long! Covering the entire course is a massive job for reporters and camera crews.  There is a huge team of reporters, camera crew, spotters, announcers and analysts that cover the entire course which requires over 6 miles of cable.  To enhance the television viewer experience, reporters and spotters work together to track the action.  Each hole has its own spotter that sits in the tall stand. The spotters’ job is to track shots and record where golf balls land. If the ball lands in a place where the cameras could not track it, the spotter will look and find where it is and report it to the camera crew, announcers and analysts who are then able to pull it all together into the broadcast viewers see on their television.  The reporter’s job is to inform the crew of any breaking news on the course. They also interview the golfers

one-on-one after their round and during their post-round  press conference in the media center. The golf action is captured in two different ways; one with English commentary and one with no commentary.  The one with English commentary is broadcast in the US. The other is transmitted to a satellite and television networks in other countries can retrieve the broadcast and add commentary in their native language to broadcast to their citizens.

Going inside the ropes at the driving range was a great experience! I got to see first-hand how the golfers warm up before playing.  It was fascinating to see the different strategies used by the players to warm up before entering a round. Some players go to the driving range first, some go to the putting green. Some hit their irons first, some hit their woods and drivers.  Regardless of how players choose to warm up, the USGA makes sure players have available to them the same type of golf ball the players will use during their round. While visiting the driving range, I got to meet and take photos with Amanda Hollingsworth, a new LPGA golfer who went to school and played golf at Virginia Tech.

In conclusion, being part of the Junior Reporter Tour at the 2019 Women’s US Open was an all-around great experience.

Seeing how the broadcast team captures and records all the action from around the course was fascinating! As well, going inside the ropes at the driving range was  incredible. I am glad I was a part of this awesome experience. Thank you for allowing me to participate!

CATE – Par level, age 14

On Saturday, June 1, I went to the USGA Women’s Open at the Country Club of Charleston. For me and a few other lucky juniors it was an opportunity to get a “behind the scenes” tour of the USGA experience. Our group included two special guests, Ella Drew and Elodie, both winners of the junior competition for the U.S. Women’s Open ticket design!

Our experience included touring the Fox set, Media Center, USGA live set, walking inside the ropes at the practice range and a meet and greet with Amanda Hollandsworth. She told us about how she got started as a young girl, golf life and how she has only been pro for a few weeks!

We learned many fascinating facts that I am not sure many know.  In the media center, we learned that the Women’s Open Championship is broadcasted in 150-200 countries around the world and in 25 languages. They have 50 engineers making sure that the golf gets from the camera to your tv smoothly. The producer watches 100 monitors the size of iPads making sure that the most intriguing shots gets to your tv. They like to show amazing shots and the leaders as well as make sure they are always telling a story. This is what makes viewing golf at home interesting The producer, assistant producers and their teams work together to create a story that goes beyond players driving, chipping and putting balls. Stories include information about the venue, special interests or the USGA. It takes all members to work together at a feverish pace to make the broadcast look flawless for us at home. The media team also need to plan in advance for when there may be delays. Since the broadcast is shown live, footage is always on hand and carefully planned to fill the voids. While we have a drought here and Charleston and it has been a heat wave, as luck would have it we had a big storm on Friday afternoon. The USGA has their own meteorologist on site who is always watching the weather and preparing the staff on site for any unexpected changes. As the weather system approached on Friday, he was called into action. As some staff worked to get players to safety and clear the course of spectators, the camera crew are told to leave there cameras on the course set to the widest setting and seek shelter. As they watched from their trailers, that now famous lightning bolt hit the big oak on the first green. When they went back later and looked at the cameras, the crew was able to find a cool picture and video of lightning striking a tree.

The U.S. Women’s Championship is commercial free and there is a team working up to 5 hrs making sure there is content on all the time. There are 70 camera positions and roughly 40 cameras. Filming this takes teamwork. Whenever players are is done with the first hole they will move the camera to a later hole and so forth. There are approximately 6 miles of camera wire as well as wireless. Spotters work with the cameramen to tell the cameramen where something juicy is happening, which keeps viewing exciting for us!

The USGA has a team that comes to the tournament location 2 years prior to the open. Additional staff begins to filter in closer to the tournament date. 1,700 volunteers help throughout the week. The Open is a family friendly event. There is a junior experience tent which has crafts and games for juniors, many food trucks and concessions and a junior fan zone so kids can get autographs!

I really enjoyed watching Lexi Thompson. She drives the ball incredibly far and I look up to her. She’s been playing in the open since she was 12. She was one of the youngest players to ever qualify for that event. She finished the day at -6 and in the top 5. She said in her interview that she was able to go home for two days before the tournament and got to spend the time with her dad. They practiced for 5-7 hours per day and played many holes so she could build her confidence.

The Junior Reporter experience was one I will not forget anytime soon. It was an opportunity to learn as well as experience the USGA up close and watch great women grind it out on the course!

MADISON – Birdie level, age 11

On June 1st, 2019 I got the opportunity to attend the U.S Women’s open championship. While attending the event I learned lots of facts and information about the event. I got to meet some of the players and I got to see different parts of the course and the media center. I also met a lot of competitors from the tournament.

The Tournament had a lot of interactive games that people could play and try. One of the things they had there was a screen where you could have your picture taken and it would send it to your phone. Right behind that was a putting game where you could put four balls and see if you cold make the shots like the pros can. This was a good way for people to practice putting and to have fun.

They had player memorials along the course. The memorials were life size pictures of past winners. It was very cool to just be walking to see players playing and you see past winners and make you think that one of these players will be on one of these one day. They also had signs on the course of the future courses for future women’s opens.

The women’s open had a Junior Center. The Junior Center had many activities that Children could interact with. Games in Included decorating golf balls, miniature put-put, hula hooping, and many more. They also had a face painter and a wheel you could spin to win a prize.

The ponds and wildlife on the course were beautiful. As I was walking, I saw pelicans and other birds. There were turtles in the pond. They were very beautiful in their habitat. The food at the event was also very good.  They had a large variety to choose from. They had food trucks and concession stands.

The sponsor of the event was Lexus. Lexus had a booth at the event. In the booth they had a car simulator for eighteen-year old’s and older. They also had an activity called “Put Like a Pro” where you try to make a put that most pros can. The Booth also had the trophy inside along with one of the cars that Lexus sells.

They also sold merchandise at the event.  Some of the Items they sold were hats, shirts, jackets, posters, pins, and more.  The items are very high-quality. It was very jam-packed full of people. The customer service was very good.

The children’s tour was very interesting when we go to the media center. We got to learn about all of the cameras and filming information about the event.  They have over six miles of cords to record all of the action.  They have about 300 people working on the event. The event is one of their A-list events which means it is one of their more successful events in sports. The group I was with go to see where they do the end of game interviews and their reports on the event. We got to take pictures at these places.

This was a great experience and if you ever get the chance to go you should definitely go for it.

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