By Adriana Sanders
My name is Adriana Sanders. I have been to the Phoenix Open many times, but today was definitely the most exciting. This time was a completely different experience because my fellow reporter, Jake Walden and I got to interview pro golfers like real reporters do. It was a whirlwind of a day! We even got cool little badges!
We first started off the day by meeting up with Coach Scotty and receiving our media badges. We made a plan for the day, said goodbye to our parents and then quickly went to the media center, where we got to see other reporters in action. That’s where they kept all of the players’ bags, which was really cool to see.
The next thing that we did was go to the practice rand and watch some of the players before their rounds and then watch some of the groups play for a bit. On our way back from watching on the course we played some of the Waste Management games, my personal favorite was the one where you had to chip a smashed aluminum can into a recycle bin. We decided to interview the employee that was working there. She said the games that Waste Management puts on shows how recycling can be fun. We also had an interview with the employee who checks in all of the volunteers at the beginning of the day. He compared his chaotic morning to “juggling cats”.
One of the highlights of the morning was going to the Greenskeeper Suite. The suite was on hole 18, with a very nice view of the fairway. Inside of the suite there were lots of fancy furniture and food. After that we headed to #9 green to wait for Harold Varner III, an alumni of The First Tee, to get an interview. When he returned from scoring, we had the interview. He said that he always looks forward to the loudness of the 16th hole here at the Phoenix Open. We asked almost everyone we interviewed if they were a dog or a cat person, Harold turns out to be a dog person.
The Thunderbird complex was interesting to check out. There we interviewed Mike Rena a Thunderbird who is assigned to the Birds Nest. He said it takes until the end of March to take down all the stands and tents etc. at which time they begin the planning again for next year. His favorite part of the tournament is that it raises millions of dollars for local charities. Another interesting place we visited was the workout trailer, where the players come before the tournaments.
The most exciting part of the day was when we got to go into the 16th hole skyboxes. But what was really cool was the skybox where the golf channel films their segments. Jake and I got to take a picture there with the 16th hole in the background. We then interviewed Brandel Chamblee. Brandel said it was a hard transition from being a player to reporter and that everything that you do affects everyone else’s job and that you are part of a team, when working on T.V., when you’re a golfer “its just you and those golf balls”. He also prefers dogs especially terriers.
We were fortunate to interview Thunderbird Greg Hoyt, he puts on the Dreamday, the event held Tuesday. He is also on the board of The First Tee. He told us that his favorite part of the Phoenix Open is
putting on Dreamday and being able to see 500 kids see golf for the first time. He is also a dog person. Our very last interview was with Bryson DeChambeau. He said that hole 16 was “hectic” and that he juts puts himself in a “bubble” so that he can focus. He said that he used to like cats but now he likes dogs better.
A big thanks to Kevin Terry, who gave me the opportunity to be a course reporter, and Coach Scotty who escorted us around the facilities and helped us with our job.
By Jake Walden
When I was just 9 months old, I attended my first Phoenix Open in 2005, and my Dad has taken me almost every year since! I’ve always had a blast following my favorite professional players around the course, but it has been a huge dream of mine to be inside the ropes with them. Today, that dream became a reality, as I was chosen to be one of two course reporters for The First Tee of Phoenix today and tomorrow during The Waste Management Phoenix Open.
My partner Adrianna and I started out the day by getting our “All-Access/Media Passes” and took a tour of the media center. I thought it was so cool to see all of the professional player’s golf bags lined up together right before my eyes! Since it was still so early in the morning, we weren’t able to interview any of the players yet, so we decided to interview some of the local Waste Management employees. One of them was a woman by the name of Tish, and she gave us a detailed education about what it takes to make our world a cleaner place. Her enthusiasm about it inspired me to pay more attention to what I can do to help in this process.
After the early rounds finished up, I was very excited to finally be able to interview the players! The first player we interviewed was one of my favorite interviews of the day. It was a First Tee alumni, Harold Varner III, and it was awesome because we got to interview him privately, without any cameras or other reporters around. He was very personable and wasn’t in a rush, which allowed us to ask him a lot of questions. Our first group interview was with Justin Thomas, and I was able to ask him several questions while the cameras were rolling which was really cool. As the first flight of pros finished up, there was a little gap of time before the second flight came through the media center, so we got to roam the practice areas. This is where we met Russel Henley who was on the putting green working on his short game. He was kind enough to step away and answer a few questions for us. After that, we got to go up to The Golf Channel suite on hole 16. This is where we met broadcaster Brandel Chamblee. He gave us a tour of the suite and we even got to sit behind the reporter’s desk, which was amazing! Afterwards, since we were already on hole 16, we stopped by Greg Hoyt Jr.’s suite to say, “Hi” and get a quick interview. By this time, the second flight of players were finishing up, so we headed back up to the clubhouse/media center to interview more pros. We were able to get a group interview with Bubba Watson and Tony Finau. And to top off our first day, we got to interview Bryson DeChambeau. This was the highlight of my day, as Bryson’s kindness made a lasting impression on me. I’m also very impressed with the way he signs his autographs…His signature is perfectly legible! I have gotten hundreds of autographs from different famous athletes and actors over the years and his is the best one I’ve ever seen! …even on a golf ball! I got to meet him yesterday while I was an honorary caddy for TFT on hole four, and I was completely surprised that he recognized and remembered me as soon as he saw me today. Even though there were many professional reporters there anxiously waiting to interview him, he made sure to spend a lot of time with us. This made us feel just as important, if not more important, than them. He even took extra time to take selfies with us afterwards.
All in all, we performed a total of 14 different interviews today, and I must say that my first day as a course reporter was more fun and exciting than I ever could have imagined. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us tomorrow.