Junior Course Reporter Blog

Follow Kyle Cleary and Sadie Martinez, Eagle Level participants in The First Tee of Connecticut, as they serve as Junior Course Reporters at the 2013 Travelers Championship.  Special thanks to Josh Belowich from the Travelers Championship and our friends from The PGA TOUR and The Whistle for their work to make this program a tremendous success.  Bios and blogs housed below:

Kyle Cleary

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My name is Kyle Cleary, I am 13 years old and live in Waterbury, CT.  I attend Westside Middle school and I am in the eighth grade.   Beginning in the fall of 2013 I will attend Kennedy High School’s S.O.A.R. program (which is the prestigious public high school honors classes).  S.O.A.R. students are held to a higher standard compared to other students.  I have just completed the Birdie Level within The First Tee and I look forward to attending the Eagle Level this summer.

I have a high interest and respect for the game of golf and never miss an opportunity to go play golf.  In my free time I like to take pictures.  When all you have to take a picture is a 2 megapixel camera I will make the best out of my photo.  I love my family and enjoy swimming in the pool and hanging out in the hot tub with my family and friends on a hot day.  Finally I am ambitious and confident in myself and whatever I do.

Sadie Martinez

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Sadie Martinez, 18, lives in Hartford, CT with her parents and brother Danny (former First Tee participant).  She recently graduated from Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford and will be attending the University of the Cumberlands starting in the fall.  Sadie will be playing on the women's golf team there and will begin her college career with her major undecided.

 Sadie’s hobbies and interests include playing soccer, basketball, and golf.  “I never thought that  golf would be the sport I would end up playing for the rest of my life. During my high school career I played Varsity golf for four years.”  Sadie was secretary of her class for two years and a class representative.  She participated on the mock trial team starting sophomore year as the lead prosecuting attorney.

Sadie has participated in several First Tee national opportunities including as a Junior Course Reporter at the Senior PGA Championship in 2011, the Life Skills and Leadership Academy in 2010, the Hank Haney Academy in 2011 and a couple of months ago was afforded the chance to attend the inaugural First Tee Outstanding Participant Summit in Nashville, Tennessee.  During this summit Sadie learned and attained many valuable leadership skills and ideas. Along with attending many workshops throughout the summit participants also had the incredible opportunity to meet and talk with Annika Sorenstam and President George W. Bush.

Kyle's Day 1 Blog

Today was a beautiful day for golf!  As Junior Course Reporters, Sadie and I had a fabulous time meeting Brett Fleming who is on the Titleist staff and works in the trailer. It was very interesting how the pros come in and can have a set of clubs made in a small space. Brett says that players come in everyday, even people who trust different brands.

 After meeting with Brett, we went to the Celebrity Putting Challenge, and we interviewed Jason Bohn. We asked various questions, and my favorite was, “What is the most interesting thing in your bag?” His answer was very clever. He says that he keeps shoe laces and a 1958 quarter in his bag that his wife gave him for shooting his lowest score, a 58, on the Canadian tour.

 At the press conferences, we were allowed to ask one question each. I asked Justin Rose, “Obviously your mind is on your game but what is going through your mind when you are paired? Are ever intimidated or amused by your partner?” He stated that at tournaments like these you really aren’t focused on the fact that your partner may be better than you, you just focus on your game. The next conference was, Rickie Fowler. Sadie and I had fun watching the Golf Boys videos before he came in. When he arrived, the question I asked him was, “What is your definition of mental toughness, in sports and in life? Also, how does playing in an individual sport for so long help you improve your confidence and resilience?” He replied that he has improved a lot over the years in how he rebounds from mistakes. He said that you don’t learn confidence, you gain it, and that is why pros are pros.

Finally, at the end of the day, we saw celebrities tee off on the first hole.  We saw John Daly, Javier Colon, and Boston Marathon bombing first responders tee off.   Then we filmed intro footage of tour day for The Whistle sports website.

Sadie's Day 1 Blog

The greatest week of the year for all golf fans in Connecticut is Travelers Championship Week.  This is a special tournament for me because it brings back vivid memories of when I was 10 years old and was chosen to hit the first shot of the tournament alongside Notah Begay.   As a member of The First Tee of Connecticut, I was given the opportunity this year to be a Junior Course Reporter.  One of the most exciting days of this amazing week is the Wednesday Celebrity Pro-Am. Today, as I watched several groups of players (professional and amateur) tee off the first hole, I was reminded of why I enjoy the game of golf so much.  It is incredible how one simple sport can bring together so many communities of people for one tournament. The atmosphere on a day like today is beautiful.

As a junior course reporter my day started off by getting a tour of the Titleist trailer. At this trailer I was introduced to Brett Fleming. Mr. Fleming drives the Titleist trailer across the country to almost every tour event. The trailer stays on the course during the practice rounds and then leaves for their next event. Inside this trailer, you can find every single shaft, grip, head, and snack known to man. Here, players drop off their clubs and get them checked for lie and loft by Mr. Fleming. The players can also use the trailer as an escape from the outside. Inside, they are provided with anything they want. They can grab hats, snacks, or anything they really need. 

The following part of my day was my favorite. I got the opportunity to sit in on three press conferences and ask questions. The first press conference was with this year’s 2013 US Open champion, Justin Rose. I asked Mr. Rose what his thoughts were coming down the final fairway at Merion last week. He mentioned that once he hit the tee shot onto the fairway, he was comfortable.  He also said that as he was walking, a fan yelled, “just an iron and two putts, Justin.” That was exactly what he needed to do to win the US Open, and he did it!  The second press conference was with Rickie Fowler.  When I asked him, Mr. Fowler told me that the number one band on the PGA Tour is Golf Boys, which he is a proud member of. I thought that was pretty funny! The last press conference was with Hunter Mahan. I got to talk to Mr. Mahan about how different his mindset is for this week compared to last week. He said that it is definitely different because at Merion par is really good but here at TPC he can be more aggressive on most of his shots and go low.

After having such an amazing day, I look forward to tomorrow’s adventures of my First Tee Junior Course Reporter journey.

Kyle's Day 2 Blog

 

We started the day with a comfortable feeling, remembering yesterday’s success and hoping for another one.  We set off early onto the golf course and started by following Connecticut’s own Kyle Bilodeau.  Kyle started off on the 10th hole and had a rough start with a double bogey, but on the next hole, a par three, his whole group had pars.  On the 12th hole, Kyle soared an iron out of the fairway bunker, to the green and sunk it in two putts for a par.  For the last hole we followed him, the 13th par 5, he flew it out of the tee box over the water to par it!

 

Then, we reported back to the media center to meet up with Tom Yantz of the Hartford Courant.  He gave me and Sadie tips on how to get a good story out there, the kind of article that you can’t stop reading. He explained that “many people should proof read your work, it can never be perfect!” Later on, we both agreed that once you get the ball rolling, you can’t stop writing and that is when you have that must read story. 

 

Once we were finished with that, we headed over to the production trailers which are basically big insolated tractor trailers that hold hundreds of computer screens, as far as the eye can see! Directors instruct everyone to “press this” or “cut to this” or “type that” and they ultimately cover the whole tournament down to the last put.  We visited the trailers for the Golf Channel, CBS, and the PGA TOUR.

 

After lunch, we were watched a few people tee off on the first hole like Bubba Watson and walked over to watch groups finish up on the 18th green.  Our day ended when Meghan (from The First Tee of Connecticut’s staff), Sadie and I were part of a live studio audience for the Golf Channel.  That was the highlight of my whole experience here as Junior Course Reporter!  We got to sit in their booth for a 30 minute show (Golf Central Pre Game), overlooking the 18th green.  It went by so fast, it felt like it was only 10 minutes.  Afterwards Sadie and I took pictures with the hosts: Ryan Burr, Brandel Chamblee, and Rex Hoggard. 

 

That leads me up to this very moment where I am writing this blog post! This has been a wonderful experience, and I have soaked up so much information and have many memories that will last a lifetime.  

Sadie's Day 2 Blog

 

 

As I began my second day as a Junior Course Reporter, I realized that in just one day I had learned so much about what type of work goes into the Travelers Championship and how much media plays a role in communicating what happens on the golf course to viewers at home. The first person I was introduced to today was Tom Yantz. Mr. Yantz is the golf writer and editor for the Hartford Courant. He taught me that in order to make a good article, it takes a good interview. Surprisingly, a story does not have to be about the number one golfer on the course. Mr. Yantz explained to me that as a writer, you have to provide your own taste of creativity that will hook the readers’ attention. It was a pleasure learning so much from him, he really inspired me to potentially pursue a minor or even major in journalism.

 

After leaving the media center, we walked over to the PGA TOUR production trailers.  This is where all the behind the scenes television magic happens. When you are watching the Golf Channel, almost all the stats, graphics, and images come from these trailers. What is fascinating is that the trailers are not incredibly big but yet so much gets done. This tour really opened my eyes to what production really is. I learned that with the right equipment and the right group of people that are willing to work together, you can get a lot done.

 

Some other highlights of my day included seeing Bubba Watson, KJ Choi, and Jason Dufner walking by me. When Jason Dufner walked by me I said, “good luck” and much to my surprise (because he is so quiet), Mr. Dufner responded saying, “thank you.” It is true that it is the small things in life that truly matter and make me smile!

 

As an avid golf fan, as much as I enjoy seeing professional golfers live, I also enjoy watching them on TV. Because of this, my absolute favorite part of the day was watching a LIVE taping of the Golf Channel’s Golf Central Pre Game. By observing the live taping of the show I learned what goes behind the scenes of producing this show and how important good timing is.

 

As I am concluding my day as junior course reporter I would really like to thank the PGA TOUR and the Travelers Championship for this experience. The fun I had and all that I have learned over the course of two dayswill never be forgotten!

To see photos from Kyle's and Sadie's adventures, as well as fun from the whole week, visit our TFTCT blog by clicking here.