First Tee Greater Chicago selected four eagle level junior golfers to participate in the Junior Course Reporter program on the final day of play at the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club.  The program is designed to provide young people with a rewarding opportunity to participate in a unique behind-the-scenes experience at the tournament. Ryan Meyer, Grant Nailor, Raquel Simpson, and Ethan Verner were given press badges and a notebook and were guided through the tournament and media tent for a day that will never forget!

Raquel Simpson
“My experience as a junior course reporter was very exclusive and exciting. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet a few professionals, see the behind the scenes of the media center, and enjoy the BMW Championship tournament.

Starting the day off with a nice breakfast and a tour of the media center was very educational and lots of fun. We learned how journalist are chosen for their role, the process they go through before publishing any work, and how shots and data are
tracked and recorded. Going behind the scenes was not only cool, but it shows how important golf news/media is to the audience. Of course, after watching how golf was reported, we were thrilled to watch the tournament live, and walked
a few holes, mainly following Jordan Spieth. Next, we visited the BMW Experience and participated in the hole in one challenge and Top Golf challenge. The games not only connected the audience with the game of golf, but it connected people of all levels with each other- anyone can play this game! We definitely made the most out of our media passes by going to the interview station right off the 18th green and met Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth, and Keegan Bradley, just to name a few. The Golf Channel even let us watch some live interviews and ask a couple of questions.

Overall, it was a pleasure to be a junior course reporter and I am honored that First Tee selected me for this opportunity!”

Ryan Meyer
“I had an awesome day at the BMW Championship. I was so excited to be chosen by First Tee to be a Jr. Course Reporter. I have watched many golf tournaments on TV and could not wait to experience a live tournament. In the past 3 years, golf has truly become my favorite sport. I recently made my high school golf team and I want to learn everything I can about the game.

I had the great opportunity to be given a media pass and experience many parts of the event that a person with a regular ticket would not get to see. We started our day with a tour and breakfast at the media tent where all of the journalists can watch and report what is going on in the tournament. This is also where the main interview room is for post and pre-round interviews. Second, we got to go to the SHOTlink truck and see how the PGA uses walking scorers and lasers around the course to track each player’s shot and where it was from. Later in the morning we walked around the course and saw the players at the range and putting green. We were also able to follow Jordan Spieth, my favorite golfer, for a few holes. This was unbelievable! After this, we went back to the media tent and we had lunch. Their food was very good and it was so interesting to watch the reporters interact with each other. There is so much work that happens behind the scenes that most people do not know about. We watched interviews of some of the most famous players in the world including Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Sergio Garcia, and many more. This was my favorite part of the day. I was probably 10 feet away from some of the best golfers on the tour.

We ended the day with the trophy presentation on the 18th green. We watched as Mark Leishman was crowned winner of the BMW Championship. My day as a Junior Course Reporter was a super fun day that I will never forget.”

Grant Nailor
“When First Tee Greater Chicago contacted me about being a junior course reporter at the 2017 BMW Championship, I jumped at the opportunity.  I had attended the tournament back in 2015 but just as a general spectator.  I was excited and nervous about what this experience could offer.

After our group was all assembled at the course, we met with Amy who showed us around the media areas.  We toured the media tent then moved onto the media truck.  In the media truck, we observed how the scores were calculated and broadcast to the viewers at home and we also learned they have lasers to track the balls on the course.  I wish someone would track my ball on the course with a laser, but I digress.  Our next stop was food!  The media folks have their own food tent and it was out of this world. After a good meal, we headed out to walk some of the holes and observe the players in action.  This was really fun.  I paid special attention to looking at the cameras and the various reporters and photographers that are all over the place to cover the event.  Having just come from seeing the media tent and the truck I now felt myself paying better attention to all the media out on the course.  This experience gave me a greater appreciation for all the work that goes into covering an event like this in the media.

Next, we moved onto the Top Golf attraction where we were able to hit some balls and then the area right next to Top Golf was the driving range.  We had an opportunity to watch several players warming up for their round to come.  One golfer in particular that I watched was Phil Mickelson.  Phil’s coach had laid out towels on the range and Phil was chipping to various distances it was cool to watch how accurate he was with his shots. We spent much of the afternoon in the area near the scoring trailer.  This is where the players came directly after they finished their round.  After exiting the trailer many of the players would be interviewed by the Golf Channel.  We were fortunate enough to be able to stand in on many of those interviews.  Many of the players would then go and interact with their fans after interviews, it was nice to see how many of the players took the time to sign autographs and answer fan questions.

I would sum up my experience with the highlight of my day.  I stayed around until the very end of the tournament, well after they had done the trophy presentation and most of the media stuff was being taken down.  I was able, with my media pass, to head back into the player interview room where I sat in on the final interview with the winner of the tournament Marc Leishman.  I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to participate in this event.  I think I can sum up the experience for my whole group in one word…..BLAST!”

Ethan Verner
“At the BMW Championship, I and the other course reporters got a cool behind the scenes look at how the game gets broadcasted and how live updates are being put out. We went to the Media Center where different reporters from different news companies give live updates on their websites about the player’s scores and their current ranking. To help keep the reporters updated on what happened, in the front of the room was a huge TV screen that had the live broadcast of the game and each and every player’s score.

After our tour of the Media Center, went to one of the tents where they managed what was happening during the match. They talked about the technology and how they can use it to predict where the ball is going to land and track the ball while it’s in the air. The people there showed us how they shot lasers on to the green to predict the ball movement. I thought this was one of the coolest parts of the tour. That just shows how much work they put into giving their fans the best experience.

One of the coolest things to do is talk to and interview a pro golfer. We got to talk to Tony Finau and ask questions about how it is to be a professional golfer. We also got to see and talk to Jordan Spieth, and Sergio Garcia. To me, that was the coolest part.

Being a Jr. Course reporter and representing First Tee Greater Chicago was a great opportunity for me to get a different perspective on the game of golf and the amount of work that is put into it. I had a good time with Coach Bradley and Coach George and the other course reporters and it was a great experience.”