My name is Samantha Linder, I am an incoming junior and I have been with the First Tee for over five years. I originally joined the First Tee after my mom found out about the program and suggested I participate in a clinic. At that time I was nervous because golf seemed so outside of what I was used to in terms of sports, though I am glad I did not let my nerves get the best of me. Since joining I have been involved in many different aspects of the program and I have learned from and valued each experience. Currently I am a participant at the Eagle level, I am an assistant coach for PLAYer and Par level clinics, as well as help with certifications and various events. In the past I have also helped with organization/sorting of clubs and various tasks at my chapter. The First Tee has been an amazing experience and I am grateful for every opportunity it has provided me.
SAMANTHA’S DAY ONE 1 BLOG POST
Today has been an amazing opportunity for which I feel so fortunate and thankful to The First Tee of Pittsburgh and the PGA Tour. We started our day by arriving at the Fox Chapel Golf Club, as well as receiving our media passes and setting up in the media center. After we finished setting up we were off to begin experiencing this great day.
First we went to the driving range and got to watch various players practice including Tom Kite and Fred Funk. Their practice shots were superb, making it clear why they are pros. Following the practice we went to the 10th hole and watched some of the players tee off, as well as walked around the course to see how challenging and beautiful it is.
Next we had the opportunity to sit down with Colin Murray of the PGA. He is the communication manager of the PGA tour and is on assignment for the week. He was able to explain to us the commitment it takes to work for the PGA (he is often away from home two weeks at a time) and the perseverance needed when pursuing opportunities. Also he was able to explain the process of promoting the event and trying to find a balance when it comes to interviewing players. Talking with him allowed me to see in his work some of what I have learned from The First Tee, specifically the core values of responsibility and perseverance.
Following the meeting I had one of the most exciting opportunities of the day…Attending press conferences (I even got to ask a few questions)! I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the press conferences for both Fred Couples (the defending champion) and Tom Watson (an absolutely fantastic player). They were both very interesting to hear speak and Tom Watson even knew enough about The First Tee to ask what level I was in.
We also had the chance to watch more of the players tee off. There was a great line-up and we were able to watch Fred Couples, Greg Norman, Tom Watson and finally Jay Haas tee off, each one only a few minutes before the previous one. They were excellent and demonstrated why a prefect swing is truly an art.
We finished our day by getting to visit the ShotLink trailer. ShotLink is a computer scoring and shot tracking function. They report scores and dispatch rules officials as part of the PGA. We were able to learn about both the technology behind the scores seen on the TV and also the process used to validate scores.
I would like to once again thank The First Tee and the PGA, as well as all of the people who were kind enough to take some time to meet with us. Thank you also to Coach Paul, who chaperoned us, and Coach Eric who is the director of programs and instruction at The First Tee of Pittsburgh and helped to organize the course reporter program for our chapter. Today has been a once in a lifetime experience and I can’t wait to see even more tomorrow!
SAMANTHA’S DAY TWO BLOG POST
Today was drastically different from yesterday but still a unique and incredible experience. We started our day by arriving at the media center and discussed what we felt was important to see today now that the tournament had officially started. As a group we decided that we wanted to see some of the major players tee off, walk around the golf course (specifically we wanted to see the third hole) and be able to just watch and learn from the players.
Right after arriving we were able to go to the first hole and watch Tom Lehman, Greg Norman and Tom Watson tee off. They all did a fantastic job, proving why they are often viewed as some of the best and we even got to see Lehman birdie the hole (the first of many birdies for him today). We then went to the second green and watched various players putt, which also illustrated the difficulty of the greens here at the Fox Chapel Golf Club. After that we finally got to see the much anticipated third hole; we had heard about it yesterday (it is a very unique and scenic hole were the players must hit it over a body of water onto a difficult green) and it absolutely lived up to my expectations. The hole truly demonstrated the beauty and difficulty often found on the course, making it clear why the players enjoy competing here.
After watching more great golf we reached my favorite part of the day. We were fortunate enough to get the opportunity to tour the PGA/Golf Channel broadcasting truck and speak with Bruce Kaufman. Bruce Kaufman is the director of broadcasting and in charge of domestic television for the PGA Tour. Speaking with Mr. Kaufman provided insight behind the complexity involved in making sure that everything is put together perfectly for when we see it on TV. Before speaking with him I had never realized how much work and how many people it takes to make sure that when somebody turns on a golf broadcast they have a concise, informative and visually appealing show.
We also had the ability at attend Bruce Vaughan’s press conference. Despite being in the lead he was so humble when discussing his success. Hearing him speak allowed us to see the perspective of somebody who is doing so well early on.
This fantastic opportunity has also allowed me to learn more about the nine core values. I had studied them before, but never seen so many come into play in such a short amount of time. We needed confidence and respect when we met each person who was so kind to take some time from their busy schedule to talk with us. We needed to be courteous when we watched the players, being sure to be quiet and respectful to them and we needed to be responsible by ensuring that we complete these blog posts by the deadline.
Once again I would like to thank everybody who made both yesterday and today possible. I would have never dreamed that at such a young age I would have the opportunity to see, learn about and explore so many aspects of a golf tournament, as well meet such fantastic people. Thank you also to Coach Paul, who was once again an amazing chaperone, as well as a fantastic source of information. I would also like to thank The First Tee of Pittsburgh, The First Tee and the PGA for all helping to make these two amazing days become a reality.
My name is Nathan Fedzen, and I am a senior at Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School. I started playing golf when I was eleven, and I became a part of The First Tee a year later. I have been involved in The First Tee ever since. The First Tee has had a major impact on my life and has shaped me into the person I am today. The life skills and the values that they have taught me have helped me to become an all-around better person. Had I not joined The First Tee, I would have never become as passionate about golf as I am today. I love everything about the game. I love the challenge, the competition, the good shots and the bad shots, and the feeling you get when you improve your game. Without The First Tee, I would never have experienced any of this.
NATHAN’S DAY ONE BLOG
The First Tee has given me many incredible opportunities, but allowing me to be a course reporter at the Constellation Energy Senior Players event, get up close and personal with professional golfers and to share my experiences is hands down the most amazing opportunity yet. When I was given my media credentials and told that I could go just about anywhere on the course, I thought they were joking around. It wasn’t until I was welcomed into the media tent, greeted by staff around the course, and invited to sit in on and interview with Fred Couples and Tom Watson that I finally realized they weren’t kidding.
I didn’t really know what to expect going into today. I thought that we were going to be following a strict schedule that resulted in us being herded around in a large group to gather information for a blog post that we would end up writing in a big room full of computers with dozens of other people. I was partially right. We were in a room full of computers but we were not restricted in any way. We basically showed up and had access to the entire golf course to do whatever we pleased. When we first arrived we were invited to sit in on an interview with Fred Couples and Tom Watson. After the interviews we enjoyed a nice complimentary breakfast and then headed out to the course to watch the Pro-Am event for the day. Once we had our fill of professional and amateur golf for the day, we visited our fellow First Tee participants volunteering to help out with a concession stand on the 18th hole. To top it all off we were given the chance to visit the SHOTLink trailer and see firsthand how all the scoring is tracked and broadcasted.
Being here for the day gave me a small taste of what working in the media and golf world would be like. It’s astonishing how much time and effort must go into setting up all the tents and equipment, contacting all the local news stations, and advertising the event. Then they tear everything down, pack up, and do it all again in the next city. I never really put that much thought into how much time and effort that people devote to every golf event, every single week. I don’t think that the people behind the scenes really get the credit they deserve because without them, there wouldn’t be a Champions Tour or a PGA tour. I would like to thank everyone who helped set up this tournament, along with the First Tee, for presenting me with this great experience, because if not for them, I would probably still be sleeping at home. Day 1 was fantastic.
NATHAN’S DAY TWO BLOG POST
Today was my second day as a course reporter at the Constellation Energy Senior Players event, but it was the first official day of competition. I was still tired this morning from a long day yesterday, but no one seemed to want to wait for me to get some energy for the day. Even though I was sluggish, everyone else seemed to be full of energy and ready for the day, especially the players. I walked into the media tent at around 7:50 and there was already an eagle posted on the scoreboard. Before I could even take note of who made the eagle, we were on our way down to the first tee to watch Watson, Norman, and Lehman tee off. We spent most of the morning walking from hole to hole watching some of the great golfers fight for birdies on this beautiful summer day, but we had a lot more planned for the day.
After a long morning of walking the course, we cooled off in the media tent and had another complimentary lunch. Once we finished yet another delicious meal, we ventured over to the Golf Channel production trailer to watch as they started their coverage of the event. Let me start by saying that unless you have a job in television or have visited a production complex, you probably can’t imagine how much teamwork and effort goes into running a television program. I certainly was not prepared for what was waiting in the big white trailer. There was about a dozen or more screens all showing different videos being recorded live, or recorded earlier that day. There were 5 people, including a producer and a director sitting in front of the screens giving directions and coordinating with their staff on the course. It wasn’t until the show went live that the real magic began. The way that everything flowed together perfectly and how each person executed every instruction at the right time was incredible. I had never seen anything like this before and it definitely sparked my interest.
All in all, this was another great day. I cannot express how grateful I am for this incredible event. When I joined The First Tee almost five years ago, I never could have expected to be involved in such amazing opportunities like this. I would like to thank everyone who helped organize, run, and broadcast this event. I would also like to thank The First Tee and all the dedicated members that help to give kids a chance to experience things that they wouldn’t be able to experience otherwise. These two days have been life changing and have opened my eyes to the world behind the scenes of professional golf tournaments. One day I hope that I will be the one working behind the scenes sharing my experience with future First Tee course reporters.
Hi my name is Sasha Lobel. I am from Pittsburgh Pa, home of the 2012 Constellation Senior Open. I am fifteen years old and going into my sophomore year at Taylor Allderdice High School. I started playing golf about two and a half years ago, joining the First Tee shortly after. I started very young playing baseball, then moved to tennis, and finally found the game that I now love, golf. The First Tee has been a great way for me to meet great people, improve my life skills, and enjoy and get better at golf. The First has helped me in so many ways, and I can’t think of what my life would be without it.
SASHA’S DAY ONE 1 BLOG
Being at the tournament today was one of the best experiences I have ever had. We got to walk around and experience the course, meet with important people (players, staff, media etc.), and we got to experience what it was like to be in the media for an important event like this one. In total the day was great.
We first walked into the media tent and we were able to meet with new reporters from local news. The people were friendly and welcoming treating us as if we were one of them. We spoke with Colin Murray who gave much of his time, despite his busy schedule. We talked his responsibilities on tour (a lot more than just hound the players with interview times). He talked about where he travels, and how he came to pursue his dream. It really brought us into the light of the media. We then went to back to grab some food free to us a new “media members”. That may have been the icing on the cake, no pun intended. On our way out, we stopped and talked to a gentleman from the Adams Golf equipment trailer, the sponsor of some of the players in the field, including Tom Watson. He showed us what he did, and how he helped players get ready for their rounds with last second adjustments. As he put it with a smile, “There’s nothing wrong with their swings, it’s all the clubs fault.” We then took a little free time in which we got to explore the course, watch players, and incorporate the nine core values with people we met. We had to use courtesy while watching and observing players, respect with all the people we met, and confidence to meet new people and talk to them. Finally, we had our most exhilarating experience when we were in the interview with Fred Couples, the defending champion. Mr. Couples has been an idol of mine not only for his effortless and seemingly flawless golf swing, but also for the way the carries himself off the golf course. We were no more than ten feet from him and got to listen to him answer questions. He was quick and witty with his answers, showing his experience with dealing with the media. We then were able to hear Tom Watson be interviewed and I was able to ask a question. While it wasn’t the most in depth or well worded question it was nice to at least speak to a legend of the game. We had our picture taken with Mr. Watson who was very welcoming and gracious. We were then able to explore and get to watch a little more of the action, creating a great ending to a great day.
I would like to thank The First Tee of Pittsburgh for the opportunity as well as PGA.com for posting our blogs. I would also like to thank everyone in and around the tournament for being so kind to us during our time here, and finally thank you to Constellation for putting on such a great event. I had many great experiences here that will stick with me for the rest of my life. I got to meet some of my all-time favorite players, spend time with great, interesting people, and have a great fun day around the game that I love. Also thank you Coach Paul for being so kind and a great chaperone for us.
SASHA’S DAY TWO BLOG POST
As our time at and in the media center at the Constellations Senior Players comes to an end I would like to thank everyone that has taken the time to meet with us, has worked with us, and everyone making this experience possible. I will never forget my time here and can’t express enough gratitude for everyone that’s made that happen.
Today, as the first ball was hit to officially start this championship, we were standing on the first tee to watch a couple groups tee off. There were a couple balls ten yards left, same to the right but nothing that wasn’t worth clapping for. We followed the group on Tom Watson, Greg Norman, and Tom Lehman up the reachable par 5 number two and watched them hit three stellar shots onto the difficult par three third. It was a thrill to watch legends of the game from before I was born playing together. We then, just as yesterday, we treated to a tremendous lunch. They have treated us so well in the Media Center and it makes the experience that much more enjoyable.
Next we went over to the Golf channel truck where we got to see how they produce what we watch on TV. They showed us about 20 different monitors where we watched everything live. The people were so nice bringing us in and showing us around even when they were working so hard. Bruce Kaufman from the PGA Tour was a wonderful host.
Finally, I was able to walk around the course. I saw Michel Allen make an eagle on hole 18 quickly moving him up the leaderboard. I, with a couple hundred other people, saw a 66 fired by fan favorite Fred Couples. The round was perfect with no bogeys and three birdies. It was quite an exciting first day, hopefully hinting to what the rest of the week will hold.
Again I would like to thank everyone that made this possible and everyone who made our time more enjoyable here at the Fox Chapel Golf Club. While I am sad our time here is ending, I will never forget this great experience and will have many great stories to share with anyone and everyone in the future. A special thank you to Colin Murray, Dave Senko , Mark Williams in the Media Center, to Keith “Fig” Newton in the SHOTLink truck, and Bruce Kaufman for hosting us in the television production area. Thank you to my parents who drove me out here and were supportive, thank you to the staff at the First Tee of Pittsburgh (Shane Rice, Eric Amato, Rausheyed Rollins, and Mark Field) for setting up the opportunity and for supporting me with this, and finally to Coach Paul for being so great and making this one of the best experiences of my life.
Thanks to all,
Nathan Fedzen, Sasha Lobel Tom Watson and Samantha Linder