FIRST TEE OF PHOENIX REPORTER EMILEE SWAGGER
Throughout my time at the First Tee of Phoenix I have never had an experience like today. I believe that being a Junior On Course Reporter is one of the best opportunities the First Tee offers. Over the course” of the day, I learned so many tips and tricks from sports broadcasters themselves to the mindset of Xander Schauffele being 1 stroke off the lead heading into round 2. This experience in one day has shown me a totally different side of golf. I discovered that not everyone has to become a professional golfer to be working in the golf community. The game of golf is a beautiful sport, but there is more to it than sinking the putt on 18 for the win and today showed me just that.
During my afternoon my fellow course reporter, Andrew Hayslett and I got the chance to take a peek into the Golf Channel set held on Hole 16. After watching the brilliant commentators: Paige Mackenzie, Rich Lerner, Brandel Chamblee I got to speak with them individually about their journeys to becoming a part of the Golf Channel. “When a person has something to say it is a powerful thing, but if you can find a way to share it in a way that people will understand and listen, well that is as powerful as you can be”, Brandel Chamblee expressed when asked what advice he would give to young, aspiring journalists. I found an astonishing truth in his statement just for the fact that the hardest thing for the younger generation to do is to understand that our voice matters. Paige Mackenzie and Rich Lerner depicted how in life we are given opportunities, and during those uncomfortable moments we have to step outside of our box and say “YES” both exclaimed during their interviews. As I went throughout my day and interviewing other WM staff members I saw a recurring thing- saying “yes” can lead you to being a successful and great human being. The voice of young people is severely underrated, and I would say the Golf Channel commentators helped me learn how to harness my voice and use it to grow.
Although the wind was brutal and conditions worsened throughout the day, I got the chance to debrief with the players as they rolled in off of 9 and 18 greens. Being ranked highest on the leaderboard after round 1, Xander Schauffele spoke about how his mindset had been changed so early in the morning when he forgot to check the weather and was shocked when the first gust of wind hit him on the range. “ My preparation for the day had changed with only an hour left before my tee time, but I don’t anticipate as much wind for tomorrow so we will see”, Schauffele stated when asked if he thinks the wind will have as much of an effect tomorrow. Tony Finau was excited for the late tee times to keep himself warm even though it was windier through his front 9. As Finau reached the end of the front 9 he started to rally it up and finish off the day strong. He explains his hole 16 strategy is “always go for the 1!” as early that day he hit an amazing shot to 1’4” on 16. Obviously that strategy must work! For his second appearance at the Peoples Open, Rory Mcilory finished his day +2, although only hitting 4 out of 14 fairways. Although his day didn’t play out how he wanted, he explained how he kept his head in the game and pulled off some incredible shots.
Today was so much fun and I am so happy I get to come back for day 2 tomorrow.