Junior Course Reporters at the 2013 Valero Texas Open

The First Tee Reporters

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STEFANI RODRIGUEZ

April 3, 2013

Today I was lucky to experience the Valero Texas Open. It was a spectacular experience and I am thankful for The First Tee of San Antonio for providing me with this experience of being a junior course reporter at the Valero Texas Open. I was able to meet with numerous people and experience what happens on the course and also what it is like being a part of the media. But the Valero Texas Open is not only about golf, it raises money for charity for children.

When we first arrived to the Valero Texas Open we were fortunate enough to sit down and interview with Matt Flory, the Director of Business Development at The PGA TOUR's TPC San Antonio. He is in charge of the inside sales at TPC San Antonio. He taught me that people are different and you have to adapt a conversation to a specific person. After sitting down with Matt, we were able to see and learn about the maintenance compound with Kevin Whitten. I was amazed with everything Kevin and his co-workers do to keep up with the course. When I finished touring the compound I was fortunate to be able to view the NBC television trucks. It is incredible to find out how much work goes into a live broadcasting. It was interesting to see how everything comes together. Once we finished touring the NBC trucks, we were lucky to be able to sit in a press conference with Rory Mcllroy. It was interesting to hear Mcllroy talk about his golf game.

 Later on in the day we had the chance to go in the Titleist Truck and find out what the truck has and what is available to the pro's before the tournament. We were also able to interview with Tim West, the Pro-Am Player Recruiter. West is in charge of getting the player to play in the Pro-Am. Shortly after meeting with Tim, we got the chance to interview Patrick Reed's caddy, Justine Reed. She started caddying for Patrick in Q-School and learn as she goes. Minutes after talking with Justine, we interviewed Scott Brown who won Puerto Rico Open in mid-march of this year. Being able to talk to Brown was amazing because we were able to talk about his most recent win in Puerto Rico. Overall today has been so amazing because you are getting the chance to meet new people, have fun, and experience the atmosphere of being at the Valero Texas Open.

April 4, 2013

Today was the second day of being a Junior Course Reporter for the First Tee of San Antonio. Today I started off by watching some morning tee offs at the 10th tee box. Then when it was time to start the day as a Course Reporter we started by visiting the Fan Fest. Fan Fest was filled with many things to do like putt or have a swing analysis, while I was visiting the Fan Fest I came across Todd Barlow. Barlow is an instructor at the Greg Norman Champions Golf Academy. I took a few swings with a seven iron while filming the balls I hit and showing them on a screen. I thought it was amazing how his tips affected my ball. It’s amazing how one small adjustment can make a huge difference.

The next interview was truly amazing to me. We interviewed the Meteorologist, Wade Stettner. A day like today when it’s sunny outside is a breeze for Stettner. But yesterday was a hectic day for him with all the rain and lighting on the course. “I am more interested in what the players do off the course then what they do on the course” said Doug Milne, the Communications Manager our next person to be interviewed. It was interesting to here Milne say that because when we usually read about how the player did instead of what they do in their free time. I agree with what Milne said when he said “If you are able to write a good story, that’s everything. People don’t remember what you wrote; they remember how you made them feel.” When I thought about what he said I realized that it’s true.

We then took a walk to the SHOTLinks truck with Sean Howland. “Got out and fail it’s how we learn. We don’t learn by not going out and trying. You will learn more by failing so go out there and fail. It’s okay to fail.” Said Howland. When he first started that statement I was a little confused until he got half way into it. What the people in the SHOTLinks trailer do is track every player’s ball every time each player hits the ball. They gather the distances, what cut of grass it’s in, how far it is to the hole, the time the player strikes the ball etc. of each shot. It’s phenomenal how accurate they are when they determine the distance.

Then we had some free time to do just about anything. But I knew it was almost time for Rory McIlory to finish his round. So we waited for him to finish his round so we could get an interview with him. We were overwhelmed that we interested in talking to us. I was amazed by his answer when we asked him what he liked most about golf. You don’t hear a lot of golfers say what he told us. He basically said that he liked it because if he hits a bad shot it’s on him. There is nobody to blame but himself and vice versa. If he plays well he knows that he is the one who did it. We ended the day with the Director, Tournament Business Affairs, Stephanie McNeill. She is like a resource person. She handles things outside of the ropes. For example if SHOTLinks needed wires McNeill would get those wires for them.

                Overall my experience of being a Junior Course Reporter for the First Tee has been amazing. I’ve learned so much in these past two day then I’ve learned in a long time. Always dream big, don’t sell yourself short. If you can dream it, it can happen, all you have to do is believe you can and work at achieving your goal.

 

PIA SERRANO

April 3, 2013

 Hello Golf Fans! My name is Pia Serrano. I am a junior at Antonian College PreparatoryHigh School. This is my second year to be representing the First Tee of San Antonio as a Junior Course Reporter.My day teed of with an interview with Matt Flory. Flory is the Director of Business Development at the grand TPC. "It was a leap of faith. People are typically happy, it is nice to be around." explained Flory about his passion to be in the golf business. Flory makes every effort to make sure his clients are well taken care of. "We try to be creative as we can and use different markets... got to get as creative as possible." commented Flory on his success as the Director of Business. I found it very interesting that Flory compared his occupation to a chameleon. Flory must be able to adapt to what is valuable to his clients like how a chameleon will adapt its color.My next interview was with the Superintendent of TPC San Antonio, Kevin Whitten. Hardwork, determaination and devotion to his occupation was visible when I interviewed Whitten. I learned that the breathtaking TPC was constructed above the Edward's Aquifer.Whitten is cautious with the fertilizers and chemicals that he uses to perfect the flawless TPC.Whitten gave a tour on the machines and tools that he uses to maintain the golf course. Whitten's occupation revolves around responsibiltiy. The impact we have on the enviroment will affect our future.

My next stop was at the NBC trailer. Sam Goldberg gave a tour on how NBC gets the golf tournament on tv. Cooperation, positivity, and oraganization is keen for success. It was veryinteresting to see all the monitors on the screen, and how they all are connected. My favorite part of the day was having the privelege to be inside the NBC trailers. It opened my mind that alot of hard work and collaboration was put in.

The highlight of my day was having the opportunity to interview Rory McIlroy. " I have played okay... I was struggling with confidence in Memphis but now I am confident." commentedMcIlroy on his mental game for the Valero Texas Open. McIlroy gave insight to how he manages his game "Give yourself a margin of error. Par is sometimes a good score." McIlroy expressed his gratitide for the hospitality of the people of San Antonio. "Hospitality has been fantastic, the people make me feel so welcome. As if they couldn't be happier and I feel comfortable. I'd love to leave Sunday with a trophy." exclaimed McIlroy.

My day continued with a tour of the Titleist trailer. Glenn Mahler was courtesy enough to give me and my fellow Junior Course Reporters a tour of the handy but compact Titleist trailer. "The best players don't tinker their clubs" advised Mahler on his perspective of the players. Mahler displayed the tools that he uses to assist the players in perfecting their golf game. "It is like chemistry, balancing equations." said Mahler who compared his occupation to chemistry.

I had the opportunity to interview Pro-am Director, Tim West. "Im the go-to guy... I am more of a babysitter." chuckled West. West has been dedicated in the Pro-am business for 24 years. "It is more like a big travelling circus, it is one big family. We all take care of another." explained West on his occupation. "Snappin necks and chashin check." is what West is all about. West is responsible for taking care of the players needs. West says his occupation is like "nailing jello to the wall, hoping it holds."

The next person I interviewed was caddie, Justine Reed. Reed is the wife amd caddie for rookie, Patrick Reed. "Just learning as you go, experience is the best teacher." advised Reed on how she developed a passion for caddying. "He (Patrick) may hit a good putt but they won't go in. It is just how it works." commented Reed on her thoughts of her husband's golf game.

My day finished off with an interview with pro golfer Scott Brown who recently had his first win in Puerto Rico. "Fun experience... I had some luck, it just happened." said Brown on his thoughts of his victory in Puerto Rico. Brown started the game of golf at a young age and was influenced to continue the game of golf by his father. Brown's father encouraged Brown to play golf with etiquette and to keep up pace of play. "The comradery, I love to met so many interesting people. Golf is a revenue to met many people in different wyas." chuckled Brown on why he enjoys playing golf professionally. "I am not the most talented, but I work the hardest." said Brown on his work ethics. Brown advised me and my fellow Junior Course Reporters to

"Dream Big."

 April 4,2013

Hello Golf fanatics!

 

The Valero Texas Open is in full swing. Get ready for a week filled with great food, beautiful scenery, and amazing players .The Valero Texas Open is more than just a golf tournament. This professional tournament raises money that will support local charities here in the Greater San Antonio area. Many Thanks!My day teed of with an interview with meteorologist, Wade Stettner. "Weather isn't in a textbook." chuckled Stettner. Stettner spends majority of his day updating and checking his weather radar in his compact RV office. Stettner is responsible for the safety of the players and the fans regarding the weather condition. Stettner's occupation requires patience, sacrifice, and good judgement. Stettner has a genuine passion in his occupation and is a great role model for responsbility and judgement.I had the privilege to interview Media Official, Doug Milne. " I am more interested in what the players do off the course." commented Milne. Milne is responsible for gathering information from the players that will raise interest in readers. "I want to give a story." smiled Milne. "I don't want credit, I just want to know the person." said Milne on his passion for his occupation. My day continued with a tour of the Shotlinks Tour Trailer led by Sean Howland. "Don't be afraid of failure." advised Howland. Shotlinks has renovated the game of golf. Greens in regulations, number of putts and driving distance information is equipped by the Shotlinks. Cooperation, eagerness and experience describes Howland and his partners. Nothing can stop the Shotlinks Tour!

 

"Golf is great...you really need a business side." smiled Stephanie McNeil. McNeil is responsible for "keeping an eye on revenue." McNeil had a need for speed. She first started in the Nascar business but realized that Nascar was not for her. McNeil has a strong desire to raise money for charities near and dear. "Best practice kind of thing." commented McNeil on her passion for her career. "I am the resource." laughed McNeil.As my day comes to an end, I had the privilege to interview one more person. Rory McIlroy was courtesy to have a quick chat with me and my fellow Junior Course Reporters. Talent and a passion for golf was evident on Rory's demeanor. Rory's favorite thing about golf was that it is an individual sport. "Dream as big as you can." advised McIlroy on how young golfers can follow his footsteps. From the NBC trailer to interviewing McIlroy, these past two days were filled with meeting new people and having a better knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes at the Valero Texas Open. Thank you to the First Tee of San Antonio for letting me have this opportunity. See you out on the course!

 

 

ELSA DIAZ

April 3, 2013

Junior Course Reporting Day 1. The cold caught us out there! Something my co-members and I were not expecting just like the cancellation of the Pro-Am, but what caught my attention most of all were all the 9 core values that are demonstrated by everyone we interviewed at The Valero Texas Open. The respect everyone gives each other, the confidence every player needs, the honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, judgement, perseverance, and one thats seems to be a biggie, responsibility.  The ones we interviewed today only brought me more excitement about my future and what I want to do with my golf game and studies.

Matt Flory was one of the first victims that allowed me to pick his brain. Mr. Flory studied what I plan to study, communications. I was very interested in his responses about his responsibilities in the golf industry. I soon learned that his job leaned more towards his MBA, and not as much to what I want to do with my degree. But still a great guy!

Another victim that had the chance to speak to us, The First Tee junior reporters, was a man who, in my opinion defines the word of responsibilities, Kevin Whitten, the superintendent of TPC.  Mr. Whitten definitely expresses the 9 core values in his job off the golf course, even though he is still on the golf course. Checking the greens, soil temperature, bunkers, fairways and even waking up at 2:15am.

We got to sit down and talk to a recent winner Scott Brown who won the Puerto Rico Open. Brown sat and talked to us about how ever since he was young he wanted to be a professional golfer and expressed the importance of hard work. Perseverance.

I also talked to an interesting man I had the pleasure to meet a few years ago who calls himself the ¨babysitter¨, Tim West. A guy who transfers the ¨go get it¨ energy to the people around him. West described to us his job in the Pro-Ams and putting out ¨every little fire that comes out¨. His great attitude made me feel accomplished though I had only sat scribbling on my notebook trying to catch all his words. Hopefully when I reach the LPGA he can be our babysitter and put out every little fire that I bring up, because he sure seems to put them out very well.

Someone who brings a life skill into play is one of the few ladies we actually get to see on the golf course during a PGA tournament, Justine Reed. The wife of player Patrick Reed and probably one of the strongest women I have seen around. She may be smaller than me but she can carry that bag with much more ease than I can. Being Patrick´s caddie ever since his Q-school days, Justine talked to us about being the wife, caddie, companion, and being the ¨girl¨on the golf course.

We had the great opportunity to tour the NBC and Titlelist trailers.  Both being involved with my future of golf and communications. 

Though the weather was cold, rainy and running from place to place became an hourly activity, and I was searching for the warmest spot all day, seeing how everyone had to adjust to the schedule changes and take on new responsibilities  was very admiring to see. Everyone having to be a ¨chameleon, changing colors¨ like Mr. Matt Flory described to us about adapting to situations. Watching the players to the volunteers, to the behind the scenes workers take on their responsibilities and use those core values we are taught at the First Tee was vary inspiring and had me thinking about all the accomplishments I want to achieve in my future. Even though it was still raining and cold as I drove off the muddy parking lot, the inspiration I had received from this day was still with me. I found myself heading over toThe First Tee to the driving range to hit a bucket of balls and work on my future, and with only one other person there, the rays of sun peaked through and the cold and the rain were no longer in view.

April 4, 2013

   Even though it was pretty chilly in the morning, the golf gods allowed the tournament to start with the sun coming out as the afternoon rolled by in the first round of the Valero Texas Open.

   I arrived a little earlier than the time we had agreed to meet with the other junior course reporters to go take look at all the players warming up in the chilly morning, with all the beanies and jackets I was not able to recognize many of them, but I am sure I was spotted easily with being the only one wearing a fuchsia colored jacket.

  Once our schedule as reporters started we had the pleasure to talk to Doug Milne ( and the loud heater in the background), the communications manager of the PGA Tour.  Listening and not wanting to miss some of his tips of ¨telling a good story¨ and his interesting stories as a beginner not knowing much about the game when he first jumped into the PGA Tour, left me to forget that I had actually brought a notebook to write down facts.

  We had the chance to be the fans for a while and visit the fun booths that are set up in the entrance. Trying to make putts for free milk and trying to win cruise trips I saw even  a bigger picture of the Valero Open. I was able to see all the companies that work with them, help out, and bring out the volunteers, something that is not noticed when we are outside the ropes.

  We got lucky and had the chance to meet Wednesday´s hero, Mr. Wade, the meteorologist for the tournament. Another job I had never really paid attention to, but now I know that thanks to Mr. Wade, we were all safely evacuated and no one got struck by the lightning, maybe I should of have taken Lee Trevino´s advice..

   ¨If you're caught on a golf course during a storm and are afraid of lightning, hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can hit a 1-iron¨   -Lee Trevino 

  Shot links was our next stop, and all the clicking going in in the trailer spoke for what the shot links does, tracking golf balls, distances, yardages..Matt Kutchar hitting his longest drive of the day 326 yards. Complicated process but they make it all work.

   Our last sit down of the day was Stephanie McNeil, Director, Tournament Business Affairs for the PGA Tour. Hearing about her first job in Nascar then joining the PGA tour,  still left me a little confused of how the transferring happened even after she explained to me two or three times.  Her job is definitely another one of those that are not seen by many but make up the big part of the PGA Tour events, the REAL inside of the ropes.

  With the sun still shining over the course, our day ended with more information than my brain could take. Having the chance to see the inside of the Valero Texas Open showed me that it really is not just a golf tournament but a process, a company, a team that works together to create an event that everyone can enjoy.

 

KAYLEIGH ARCOS

April 3, 2013                                       

Howdy Ya’ll. My name is Kayleigh Arcos and I’m a junior at KIPP: University Prep High School. Today I got the privilege of visiting the Valero Texas Open 2013 as a Junior Course Reporter, representing the First Tee of San Antonio. I started my golf career just last September, so I’m still green, but this opportunity definitely taught me about all the work put into events like this.

My day started with a shiver from the freezing cold Northern air, and an interview with Matt Flory. Flory is the Director of Business Development for the PGA Tour TPC at San Antonio; he focuses on the sales and marketing for the TPC. Flory wasn’t always involved in the golf business, he went to school to become a news reporter. After 2 ½ years n air, he decided to switch to the golf business to learn about the ins and outs of the media and he’s been hooked ever since. His advice for others interested in business,” You need to be good with words. What you say determines whether or not someone is gonna say ‘YES!’ All my business successes have been because I have a way of crafting my words”.

Next we visited the behind the scenes of the tournament. We talked with Kevin Whitten, the Superintendent of the Golf Course. I was astonished by how much really goes into keeping the greens looking so lush and gorgeous. We took a tour of the NBC media trucks with production manager Sam Goldberg to get look at how the network is able to capture every exciting moment during the tournament. All the members of the NBC crew work as a team and family to get the job done efficiently.


The rest of the day was filled with laughs as we talked with Glenn Mahler, a Titleist repairs expert, Justine Reed, caddy to her husband rookie Patrick Reed, and Tim West. Tim West is the ring leader in this crazy golf circus. He caters to all he professionals’ whims and says, “It’s like babysitting, I have to clean up all the messes”. I guess there’s never a dull moment when on the job.

We ended the day with an interview with pro Scott Brown, who had just won big in Puerto Rico 2 weeks ago. He’s grateful to his dad, his first coach, for all his successes and stresses the importance of great work ethic and pace of play. He says, “I always knew I was gonna be a pro. I decided it at 12 years old and I’ve been working at it ever since.” His advice for young players is to dream big because if you set your mind to something, with hard work you will achieve it.

Overall, today was a wonderful day and I am grateful to be blessed with this opportunity. The lesson today was hard work; if you work at your skill and pave the path for your success, you will be victorious.

April 4, 2013

The 2nd day of my job as a Valero Texas Open Junior Course Reporter was filled with excitement. We had the pleasure of traveling with Laura Pilsbury and Scott Ball, who are old friends, and headed on down to the Valero Fanfare section. I worked on my putting swing with the experts at the Bridgestone Golf center and enjoyed the atmosphere of the place.

We walked along the course to meet with Seam Howling, the director of Shot Links. Shot Links is the company that takes care of the technical side of the tournament. Howling talked to us about the competition and selectivity of his job. One interesting fact I learned today was that each tournament always have a skilled meteorologist on hand, and that his job is very demanding, but also thrilling.

Next, we interviewed Doug Milne the Communications Manager for the PGA Tour and I think I learned a very valuable lesson from him. He admitted that he didn’t have knowledge of the game of golf when he first started his career, but he was a fabulous writer. He thinks he is a more humble person because of it since he writes about the players’ interests and personal life, not so much about their career. He says, “If I’m able to tell a good story, that’ everything…it makes such a difference”.  Stephanie McNeill, Director of Tournament Business Affairs for the PGA Tour sat down with us after lunch to talk about her crazy, busy job. She is in charge of making sure that the 9 tournament events assigned to her each year run smoothly and are successful. That’s a lot to put on someone’s shoulders, but she’s a pro in her own right; she’s been in this business for 6 years.

My favorite part of the day was having the chance to meet with Rory Mcllroy for a quick interview. I caught him on his way to lunch and asked him what he loves most about golf. His answer surprised me; it wasn’t about the money, fame, or privileges. He says, “I love how you don’t have depend on anyone in this game, everything is on you. You mess up, that’s your mistake. You do great, you played well not because of the clubs or gear you got, but because of you.” His answer truly shows his devotion to the game, not the fame.

I’ve learned many lessons in these two short, but amazing days. I think the most important lesson I’ve learned was that it’s ok to fail. Failing at something means that I had the courage and confidence in myself to even try, and that makes all the difference. I would like to thank all the wonderful people I have met during my time as a Junior Course Reporter, and the First Tee for offering me this opportunity. I know I will fail at some things in life, but having that experience will only make me a stronger and better person; so that when I try again, I won’t just climb the mountain, I’ll be soaring above it.