Five members of The First Tee of Greater Portland were given a once in a lifetime opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at the operations of the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola last week in Portland, Oregon. The junior players received an all-access tour of the event and blogged about their experience for LPGA.com.
Representing the First Tee of Greater Portland at the Safeway Classic was the most amazing experience I've ever had in golf! I'm so appreciative of the The First Tee Program and The LPGA for setting up the opportunity for Girls Golf members to go behind the scenes at Columbia Edgewater Country Club, which is where the Safeway Classic was being held in Portland, Oregon.
When I arrived at Columbia Edgewater Country Club on the first day, I met up with my other Girls Golf participants and teachers. We waited for Meghan Flanagan who would guide and take us around for the next two days. She took us to the media center and introduced us to her coworker Ali, who was interviewing the LPGA players. We watched her interview Stacy Lewis, Mika Miyazato, and a couple more. Listening to the interviews, a majority of the players like playing 72 holes instead of 56. They also talked about the traits that we were learning: respect, kindness, giving back, sportsmanship, etc.
Late morning, Meghan and Ali guided us towards the driving range where we met Marcy Hart's caddie, Jimmy Jones. He was funny and talked about the life of being a caddie and how he got into the job. Afterwards, we met the head rules official, Sue Witters. She gave us a run down on what they do, how they set up, and much more. Sue Witters tries to go to all tournaments, and is one of the five to seven rules officials on the course at each tournament. Not long after our lunch break, we settled down and watched Paula Creamer and Suzann Pettersen's interviews. Suzann was then taken to another interview with Lizette Salas to talk about the Solheim Cup with Tom Abbott, who is a Play by Play Host, reporter, commentator and more on the LPGA Tour. Ali drove us in a golf cart to watch their interview, which was taking place on Columbia Edgewater Country Club's par 3 course.
We went back to the media center and watched a couple more interviews before Meghan let us watch players finish up Pro-Ams. At the end, we had a meeting with Meghan and Ali before Katie, Sydney, Audrey, and I (Girls Golf participants) wrote notes in our notebooks, before leaving the country club.
The next day, Thursday, August 29 was the first day of the tournament. Again, the Girls Golf participants and teachers met with Meghan, who introduced us the Player Services Coordinator, Brooke Winniger. She talked to us about the places that she would be taking us to, then we were off! The first place that Brooke took us to was the club repair trailer, where we met Paul Boehmer. Also known as The Candy Man, that's why he gave us Starbursts. Paul showed us many of his tools and gave us some hands-on activities to do before we left. After that we went to the putting green where we met Christina Kim's caddie, which was an old friend of hers. He let us pick up her bag to see what it feels like, the bag wasn't as heavy as I expected it to be. But I couldn't imagine carrying it 18 holes for two to four days! Soon after, Christina Kim began talking with us about who she travels with and what life is like on the go.
We watched a group tee off the front nine before Meghan took us to the NBC Sports truck. The first thing that I saw when I walked in was bright TV screens in the dark, big and small. It was a little crazy in there, there was non-stop talking into headphones. The director inside the truck was John Delvecchio, the producer was Beth Hutter, and then many other working people. We stayed for a while to see how they create live TV. Now we were headed for the Golf Channel booth on hole 18. It was a pretty view from their big window, but I had no idea that they film the reporters from a trailer!
We watched a few groups finish on hole 18 and tee off 1, before we wrapped our behind the scenes tour. Everything we did was so fascinating and educational!! I just want to give a HUGE thank you to Keely, Cathy, Melissa, Johnette (First Tee teachers), Meghan, Ali, Brooke, the First Tee Program, the LPGA, and everybody that we met for making this my most memorable golf event that I've participated in!
My experience at the LPGA tournament at Columbia Edgewater Golf Club was amazing! I had such a great time meeting the players, touring the course and getting to see how everything works in a golf tournament from a different perspective.
Some of the players I met were the nicest, sweetest, and funniest people! They all seemed so happy to see us out there and watching the tournament! They let us take pictures with them and even pick up their bags. I had the greatest time!!
The best part of my day at Columbia Edgewater was going to see the NBC Sports trailer where the producers and director of the program were running the whole show for the viewers! For me that was the best because I love the whole aspect of being behind the scenes and working with computers! I thought it was so cool to see how the producers let us listen to their headsets to hear what the directors were saying!
Overall, my day at the tournament was one of the best experiences of my life so far! It helped me realize what I want to be when I grow up, and that not all sport stars are rude, they are actually all very nice!!!
Hi my name is Katie Williams and I am part of The First Tee of Greater Portland, Oregon. I had a wonderful opportunity to go behind the scenes with four other girls from the First Tee program. While we were behind the scenes, we got to do lots of amazing things like meet the players, see the equipment repair trailer, go in the Golf Channel trailer, watch press conferences and learn about many other things.
The very first thing that we got to do was watch a press conference with Stacy Lewis. I couldn't believe how different it looked in person than on TV. It was very real and you could understand them better in person like how they actually feel about what they are talking about. Ali from the LPGA and Stacy sat in the chairs that were in front of the camera and Ali asked her questions about her game and if she had actually had time to sink in the experience of the Solheim Cup. After Stacy answered the question with a confident response other people that were at the press conference asked her questions and my friend Tya passed around the microphone. They asked questions like "do you like to play 54 holes or 72?" and she responded with 72 and explained why. After the press conference we had the opportunity to meet her and take pictures with her. She was super sweet and smelled very good! lol! We told her good luck and then she left.
We watched a few other press conferences after that one. We watched Paula Creamer, Mika Miyazato and Suzann Pettersen. I really wanted to meet Suzann Pettersen because she is my favorite player but she was busy because she had to go do an interview with the golf channel so Meghan let us go take a cart out to where she was doing the golf channel interview with Lizette Salas.
We were able to watch a Golf Channel feature interview from behind the scenes with Suzann and Lizette Salas. While we were sitting in the beaming sun and while we were watching I felt like I could really see what their real personalities were because they were laughing and looked like they were having a good time talking.
After that I asked Suzann to take a picture with me and it was the best thing ever because she is my idol! I also asked Lizette to take a picture with me and she was more than willing to. She was one of the coolest people I know and she has a great, funny character. While we waited for a cart to take us back, Tom Abbott approached us and started to talking to us and to be honest I didn't know who he was at first but then after a while I did. He asked about school and if we golfed and it was pretty cool having a conversation with him. I love his accent!
The first day was a success and I was excited for the second day to come!
The second day was even better! We got to meet more players and go into different trailers. The first thing we did was go to the equipment trailer and see all the different grips, shafts and tools. Paul Boehmer showed us around his trailer and told us about what the different tools and machines do for different clubs. He also gave us candy!
Meghan took us out to the range and we got to talk to a caddy named Jimmy Jones who is a caddy for Marcy Hart and he is hilarious! He told us about how he got into caddying and how he only has to work for specific blocks of time. He told us that caddies have a lot of connections with people and that some players switch caddies more often than others. We also met Christina Kim's caddie and he was very nice. He told us that he is only her caddie when she comes to Portland because they are very good friends and he cracked a few jokes about how he has to do whatever Christina wants. I asked him if it gets heavy holding her bag for 18 holes and he let us hold her bag. In that moment I couldn't believe that I was actually holding her bag! It wasn't as heavy as I expected but I could imagine that after 18 holes it gets heavy. We got to talk to Christina and take pictures with her and she was very friendly.
Meghan talked to us about how they have different programs for the players like child care services and language translators.
We went to the production trailer and got to see all of the different little TVs that they look at to decide which goes on TV and it was very overwhelming. We got to watch Beth Hutter talking into her ear piece and she was talking to Judy Rankin and Tom Abbott telling them what's coming up next on the TV so they can talk about it and know what's coming up. We walked over to the Golf Channel trailer where Tom and Judy were and we got to watch them talk on TV! It was amazing how different it looks in person and how much work they have to put into it.
This was one of the best weeks of my life and I appreciate it so much. I will never forget the experience that I have been given. I want to thank all of the people who are involved in the LPGA! THANK YOU!
Hi, this is Sydney Toops and I got to be a junior reporter for two days at the Safeway Classic tournament that was held at Colombia Edgewater. The experiences and memories I made were amazing. My peers and I got to go behind the scenes and got to do many things that I could have never imaged.
On the first day we got to sit in on some of the press conferences. Personally my favorite one to watch was Mika Miyazato's press conference. Hers was interesting to me because she is from Japan and isn't 100% fluent in English and how she is learning English to make her job a bit easier. All of the press conferences we got to watch were very interesting. All of the ladies that we had the pleasure to watch had very interesting things to say. Also, on the first day we started to learn about some of the programs that the LPGA offers like the child care programs for the professionals that have kids and the language learning program. My peers and I were wondering how do you become a caddie? Marcy Hart's caddie, Jimmy Jones, came over we got to ask him questions about how he started to be a caddie. How most caddies get the chance to caddie for a professional is word of mouth or networking with people.
The second day we learned more about the programs and trailers that they bring to many of the tournaments. They have a fitness trailer that has trainers and fitness equipment in it. We also went into the club repair which is where the professionals take their club grips and shafts to get repaired to feel brand new. I had such a great time being a junior reporter for two days. Everyone we met was super nice and friendly. All the staff and players were amazing to talk to. I have some great memories from having this experience and I learned a lot. Thank you to everybody that we got to meet for taking time out of their day to talk to us and give us memories and knowledge.
I loved listening to all the LPGA players getting interviewed by all the press and hear what they do before a tournament or a little bit about themselves and what they did before they arrived in Portland, OR.
My favorite interview was with Paula Creamer because she is my idol and I watch her on TV all the time and I got to talk to her about last year at Pumpkin Ridge and I had a picture with her and a big hug. That was the best day ever! I love Paula Creamer. Go Pink Panther!
I have always wanted to meet Stay Lewis she is number 2 in the U.S. She was very friendly with me and gave big smiles to everybody. And we wished her good luck.
It was really cool listening to a caddie’s role in the tournaments. Then we went and saw an on the course interview with Suzann Pettersen and Lizette Salas and they were talking about The Solheim Cup in Colorado between USA and Europe.