The IX: Golf Thursday with Sarah Kellam, December 24, 2020
A look at covering an LPGA event in 2020 — Catching up with Carly Grenfell — Must-click women's golf links — Merry Christmas Eve!
Howard Megdal here. Just a note on our schedule: we’ll have newsletters through Friday, December 25, and then we’ll be off next week, resuming Monday, January 4.
It’s been incredibly significant to all of us how you have come together to support what we’re building for women’s sports media — a true network of five different women’s sports, with original reporting, interviews and curated links to help empower what’s a clearly growing segment of an industry that is, overall, suffering greatly. All of you here are a reason why women’s sports will continue to get a greater portion of the attention. We all have more work to do together, and we are grateful to be doing it with and for you.
Remember to share the word: help us keep growing! Help women’s sports coverage keep growing. That’s what we’re all here to do, and will keep on pushing for in 2021 and beyond.
My week at the CME Group Tour Championship
Last week saw the finale of the 2020 LPGA Tour season with the CME Group Tour Championship taking place at Tiburon Golf Resort in Naples, Florida. One million dollars, the money title, the Vare Trophy, and the Player of the Year award were all on the line for the 72 women competing and, per the usual, the event didn’t disappoint.
For those of you that don’t know, I previously worked at Golf Channel as a production associate for the Golf Central show, but was laid off in August due to the company relocating the network to Connecticut. With dwindling numbers and few people left to send on the road, I was asked to freelance field produce for a couple of events including the CME Group Tour Championship.
When I found out I was going to have the opportunity to work an LPGA Tour event, I was jazzed to say the least. I spent my entire childhood dreaming of playing professional golf and I still admire the hell out of the women that tee it up out there week in and week out.
As a kid, I vividly remember going to the now defunct Wendy’s Championship for Children with my dad when the event was held in Columbus at Tartan Fields. I will never forget meeting some of my idols at the time like Paula Creamer and Annika Sorenstam, running down the latter riding in a golf cart and begging her to stop so I could get her autograph. I’m pretty sure that’s the fastest I’ve ever moved. (Annika, if you’re reading this, my apologies. I was and still am a HUGE golf nerd mostly because of you.)
With that being said, working this event as a member of the media was a full-circle moment for me and I wanted to walk you through the event as both a fan and a field producer, but also give you a behind-the-scenes look into covering a golf event for a television network. Keep in mind that the entity I worked for last week is separate from the tournament broadcast, so our day-to-day responsibilities are generally much different.
Day 1 (Tuesday)
After traveling into the event on Monday, myself, my camera person, and my talent typically start work on the Tuesday of tournament week. With the Monday finish that happened at the U.S. Women’s Open last week, my cameraman was delayed in getting home so we pushed back the schedule to Wednesday, effectively making my first day of work pretty short.
Once I arrived at the compound and got my newly mandated temperature check, golf cart, and credential, I found the media center, grabbed a spot, and introduced myself to the media officials for the week. I got all of my questions answered in regards to the Tour’s COVID-19 protocols and then met up with my talent for the week, Lisa Cornwell.
We chatted and walked around the practice areas for a bit and, after she left, I took a ride around the golf course to familiarize myself with the property. Following that and knocking out some work for The IX in the media center, I called it a day.
Day 2 (Wednesday)
On day two, my cameraman, Doug, arrived and we could finally get to work. With weather moving into Stamford, the show was scheduled to be taped around 2pm, cutting our time to get things done somewhat short. After talking with the producers working on Golf Central that day and communicating their thoughts with Lisa, we decided to have her do a standup on some of the big names that were having digital press conferences that day that worked with our timeframe and also had a chance to win the one million dollars, namely Sei Young Kim and Inbee Park.
Having easy access to those digital feeds, we needed to shoot b-roll of them, but, seeing as they weren’t on course, we were unable to get that footage. Instead, I had Doug shoot signage for the event and scenics of the golf course to be used that day and later in the week. Once that was finished, we were able to use our LiveUs, portable streaming devices that allow us to feed video back to headquarters, to send our footage to the studio to be used for the show.
Around 1:30pm, Doug set up the lighting and audio for our planned standup with Lisa and, once everything is ready to go, we begin to tape the show. Unfortunately, there was an issue with some of the sound that we wanted to use in Lisa’s report, but she adjusted to the changes and we knocked out her hit in the first part of the show.
After that, we taped two more standups that were to be used on Golf Channel’s digital platforms and another for Sky Sports. It’s a pretty simple day today and, with everything that was requested from us being finished, we head out.
Days 3-5 (Thursday-Saturday)
On the actual tournament days, our workload increased slightly, with the producers asking for highlights from certain groups of players and for live hits with Lisa out on the golf course, which proved to be slightly tricky. The show was scheduled from 12pm-1pm so we were sent out with the final tee time off 1 at 10:50am all three of these days to shoot highlights.
Following a group for highlights is one of my favorite things to do when field producing. It’s enjoyable to get to watch the golf up close and, while sending emails chronicling what happens on each shot in between lugging a tripod around can be tiresome, it’s always worth it when you happen to get a great shot on tape that might not ever have been seen by the viewers at home.
As far as the live standups on course went, things weren’t as rocky as I was expecting. We had decent lighting all three days and were able to shoot in between groups without disturbing play, which was incredibly lucky. After we were cleared from our hits, we would continue to follow the final group until the show ended at 1pm.
Our next task was gathering b-roll of the important groups and players each day. Doug would head to a tee box on the back nine to shoot the final three groups as they teed off on that hole and, when he finished filming, we would feed it back to Connecticut. I usually try to just keep the b-roll to players near the top of the leaderboard, but I’ll adjust if someone else is needed for the show.
After the players finish the round, we also have to get their post-round sound whether that be from the quick quotes area where a player is interviewed by multiple people at once, or we request a player do an interview with Lisa only. The first three days, most players spoke at quick quotes and their sound was fed back to Stamford via a LiveU connected to the LPGA’s interview camera, but we did have Lisa speak with Lexi Thompson and Nelly Korda with Doug shooting and me holding the boom mic.
On top of all of this, a couple of the days, the producers of the show following the tournament broadcast asked Lisa to do live standups, so that made these days a touch longer, but we still left the course at a reasonable time.
Day 6 (Sunday)
When you’re field producing, Sundays are a whole different animal. The mornings look pretty much the same as the other three tournament days, but things can get crazy when play concludes.
Tee times were moved up on this day so Doug and I were in place around 9am to shoot highlights of the final group who teed off at 9:26am. Because we were so early, Doug actually let me try to run the camera on a group and, while I totally sucked at it, I did get a Lydia Ko birdie on tape and had an absolute blast while doing it.
With the show being scheduled earlier as well, we shot for around an hour and a half which is equivalent to about four holes of golf before we broke off for Lisa’s only live shot of the day. She handily knocked out her report and we were then back to getting highlights until the end of the show at noon.
Doug went out to get b-roll right after that and we reconvened at the media center for the first decently long break of the week, taking about 2 hours to relax before the end of play.
This is where things can get a little hairy. As the final group makes their way up 18, you have to have a game plan in place to make sure you can get footage of everything you need to get footage of. Sometimes, you get very lucky and have two cameras, which makes the challenge a lot less daunting, but, in this instance, it was only Doug and we had to just do the best we could do.
We set up for the final putt on 18 and, once Jin Young Ko drained her birdie putt for the 5-shot victory, we headed to scoring to get ready for both her and Sei Young Kim to be interviewed by Lisa. Things, like usual, got crazy, with the LPGA having Ko remain on the green to be presented the trophy so it could make NBC’s broadcast and us not exactly knowing when we were going to speak to her or Kim.
Lisa was able to speak with Ko right after she signed her scorecard, but we weren’t able to get Kim in the same spot. As soon as Ko’s interview finished, we hustled back over to the 18th green to try to speak with Sei Young Kim, but, when we realized that Kim was hoisting her Player of the Year trophy for the photographers, Doug ran over and got video of her and also nabbed Danielle Kang with the Vare trophy, the prize awarded to the player with the lowest scoring average of the season.
After she finished with the photographers, Kim came over and spoke with Lisa. At the same time as the interview, Ko was doing her trophy shots and I had to make sure the media officials knew that we also needed footage of that as well. As soon as the interview concluded, Doug hopped over to Ko and got video of her with the trophy, which was the last thing that we needed to shoot for the show.
If you don’t think that sounds like pure madness, keep in mind that all of the aforementioned happened in around 15 to 20 minutes. Despite it being hectic, we got everything we needed to get done knocked out and me, Doug, and Lisa spent a few minutes talking on the 18th green.
We took some pictures as this was Lisa’s last event with Golf Channel and then Doug and I headed back to the media center to pack up our gear and make sure the studio had what they needed. Once we were cleared by the producers, we said our goodbyes and thanked each other for a great week at the event, with Doug heading back to Orlando and me catching a flight the next day back to Kentucky.
And that’s a wrap on what it was like field producing at the CME Group Tour Championship. I thoroughly enjoyed this week and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity.
Getting to cover a tour that I’ve followed my entire life and watch women that I respect so much and women I spent my childhood idolizing play golf up close was one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had during my time working in golf media.
It truly is one of the coolest things I’ve gotten to experience thus far in my career and believe me when I say I can’t wait to be on-site again at an LPGA Tour event. I hope my next shot at it comes sooner rather than later because I’m already so excited.
This week in women’s golf
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A look back at the 2020 LPGA Tour season and the incredible success that it was. (via Golfweek)
Ron Sirak remembers the 2020 LPGA Tour season. (via LPGA.com)
The LPGA Tour’s season, in spite of COVID-19, was a raging success. (via Associated Press)
LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan says that Race to the CME Globe points, not the money list, will decide LPGA Tour players’ status in 2021. (via Golfweek)
The 2021 LPGA Tour schedule is here with $76 million in purse money. (via Golfweek)
The new schedule was rolled out by the LPGA Tour last week and will feature 34 events. (via LPGA.com)
There will be no LPGA Tour events in Arizona in 2021, only the second time that’s happened since 1980. (via Golfweek)
There are 34 events slated for 2021’s LPGA Tour golf season. (via ESPN)
More on the 2021 LPGA Tour schedule that was released last week. (via GolfChannel.com)
Jin Young Ko drops the hammer, wins the CME Group Tour Championship by five shots. (via Golfweek)
Jin Young Ko took home the $1 million in Naples after making just four starts this season. (via Golf Digest)
Buying a house is Jin Young Ko’s plan for her $1 million check from her win at Tiburon. (via Golf.com)
Jin Young Ko’s memorable win in Naples seems a perfect way to wrap up the 2020 season. (via LPGA.com)
In just four starts, Jin Young Ko did the unimaginable at Tiburon. (via LPGA.com)
Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker answers Jin Young Ko’s putting questions during Saturday’s broadcast. (via LPGA.com)
Here’s a highlight recap of Jin Young Ko’s final round 66 en route to the Race to CME Globe title. (via GolfChannel.com)
More on Jin Young Ko’s five shot victory in Naples. (via GolfChannel.com)
More on Jin Young Ko’s win at Tiburon. (via WomenandGolf.com)
Sei Young Kim took home Player of the Year honors after her finish in the CME Group Tour Championship. (via Golf Digest)
Two wins and three top-10s propelled Sei Young Kim to 2020 Player of the Year title. (via LPGA.com)
Danielle Kang took home the Vare Trophy with a 70.082 season scoring average. (via LPGA.com)
Beth Ann Nichols on the points system the LPGA uses to determine the Player of the Year and why it’s the correct choice. (via Golfweek)
Here’s a great recap of the CME Group Tour Championship. (via Golfweek)
The full breakdown of the prize money awarded in Naples. (via Golfweek)
Judy Rankin called this shot from Lexi Thompson during the third round of the CME Group Tour Championship one of the greatest ever. (via Golf.com)
Check out this amazing shot from the water at the CME Group Tour Championship from Anne van Dam. (via Golfweek)
Bianca Pagdanganan met her current caddy by happenstance at Inverness and she’s pretty good at video games too. (via Golfweek)
Carlota Ciganda had an elbow injury that almost kept her out of the year-end tournament in Naples. (via LPGA.com)
St. Jude patient Mary Browder’s connection to LPGA Tour player Emma Talley and how they got to virtually meet in Naples. (via LPGA.com)
The relationship between the LPGA and St. Jude means so much to both parties. (via LPGA.com)
U.S. Women’s Open Champion A Lim Kim accepts LPGA Tour membership. (via Golf Digest)
Mel Reid and Carly Grenfell are engaged! (via WomenandGolf.com)
Annika Sorenstam will be back in action at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, but she’s playing as a celebrity. (via WomenandGolf.com)
Amanda Balionis has started her own foundation called Puppies and Golf. Learn more about it! (via Golf Digest)
Averett University adds a women’s golf program to its athletic department. (via Golfweek)
The Ohio State women’s golf coach has been suspended for the first four events of their season. (via Golfweek)
Meet Tiia Koivisto, one of the newest members of the LET for next season. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
The R&A’s amateur schedule is finalized for 2021 season. (via WomenandGolf.com)
LET player Charlotte Thompson’s thoughts on 2020. (via WomenandGolf.com)
The Four Winds Invitational on the Symetra Tour schedule is moving to South Bend Country Club. (via SymetraTour.com)
Tweet of the Week
Five at the IX: Carly Grenfell, Social Media Content Manager at the PGA Tour
What have you been up to since leaving The IX? What is your new position with the PGA Tour?
I have been on the move with my partner Mel Reid while she finished up her season and getting settled into my new job with the TOUR. I started at the end of September, and my role is Social Media Content Manager. We have an amazing team that’s responsible for all the day-to-day posting for TOUR social channels, and also creating content and reacting to events/news as they happen.
How do you think the PGA and LPGA Tours could be more collaborative in the future?
It’s a matter of baby steps and being more intentional. The fact that the PGA TOUR and LPGA were at the same table during TV negotiations is a massive step in the right direction, and I think this momentum will help spring board further interest in female professionals and women’s golf. It doesn’t happen over night. But I feel really confident that the level of exposure the TOUR can help provide the LPGA will open many doors down the road. More than anything else, exposure is what will move the needle.
Where do you see the coverage of women’s sports, not just golf, being five years in the future? Are we progressing?
I kind of touched on this in my last answer, but the two tours working together is the biggest way I’ve seen it progress. This will be a fruitful strategy for the next five years, then we continue to build from there. The LPGA is an amazing product, so the more people who hear their stories, the stronger they’ll be. There’s a long way to go still!
Who has been your favorite person to interview since you began working in golf media?
I haven’t met many TOUR players yet! But I was introduced to Tommy Fleetwod, spoke to Charlie Hoffman for a few minutes and helped with a shoot on Stewart Cink at the RSM Classic. When I was at the PGA of America, Brooks did some social media content for us after he won the PGA Championship and he was great. All my experiences have been awesome thus far.
According to your social media, you and Mel Reid just recently got engaged! What has it been like being in a relationship with a professional golfer? Do y’all play golf together and has she ever tried to give you lessons?
This is true! As you know, golf is a sport of ups and downs so we ride the highs and lows together. It was an incredible thing being on-site when she won in New Jersey. I’m just her biggest cheerleader and supporter, the rest of her team handles everything else and do a great job of it. She does give me golf pointers, but sometimes she gets a little bit too technical for my understanding – ha! I’m a beginner so not everything clicks. We have a blast playing together though; she does a good job of reminding me I don’t need to be perfect or hit a good shot every time.