The East Lake Foundation sent their own student correspondents to the Tour Championship this week to report on the action on and off the golf course.
Here are excerpts of their work as provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The golfer-caddy relationship
“After speaking to the two East Lake Golf Club caddies, we got the opportunity to speak with a PGA Tour caddie, Joe Griner, who carries the bag for Max Homa. He spoke about his relationship with Max. They grew up together playing golf, Joe being four years older. As Max became better at golf, Joe eventually became his caddy. The pair live within a mile of each other and still play together to this day. Joe’s least favorite part of the job is the travel. He notes ‘It’s a lot of time away from home but there’s also really good times.’ Joe reflects on his relationship with Max saying that their friendship hasn’t changed much. He says they have to be careful about how much time they spend together given they spend around 40 hours a week together. When asked what the biggest thing he has learned about golf Joe immediately responds ‘How hard it is at every level; even the best golfers in the world struggle. It’s probably more mental than physical when they get this good.’ Joe tells us that as a caddy, it’s important to “keep it light” when Max isn’t having the best round. He says sometimes he brings up stuff that’s not related to golf. ‘I either tell a story of a joke or bring up dinner the night before, just so he’s not thinking about golf every two seconds.’ Finally, Joe tells us that the best part about working with Max is their friendship. He says ‘I think it’s pretty special because we’re such good friends and I get to watch him live out his dream and be there for him so it’s pretty awesome.’”
- Eleanor Jones and Elsie Husted
The weather man
“Thursday morning out at East Lake Golf Club we arrived to a gloomy sky and some unwanted rain showers, wondering if we are going to have a stormy start to our Tour Championship. As our time gets closer to the opening tee shots, there is still no sun in sight. We went on a hunt to figure out who has the power to tell us whether or not golf will start on time today. After we found the Meteorologist trailer, we learned that senior meteorologist Wade Stettner, who consults for the PGA Tour and is at every tournament, was our helping hand on whether the championship tee times would be affected.
“After meeting Mr. Stettner we learned quite a few things about the weather this week and how it may affect the start of the first day of our Tour Championship. To give us a taste of the world of a meteorologist, he started by telling us how he looks west of Georgia to give us a heads up on what weather and storms we may need to look out for. There is radar giving us signs of storms traveling east from Alabama on course to interrupt our first day of play. He informs us that the storm is still a ways out however it is something that his team would have to watch out for as the day goes along. Following his statements telling us about the incoming weather, he takes us on a journey to space to give us a taste of what the weather looks like on a bigger scale. He introduces us to something his team likes to call ‘chunky clouds.’ He explains that chunky clouds are the clouds that you see start to begin to get thicker. He also states that ‘Our chunky clouds will begin to look like cauliflower and will usually have spotty areas adjacent to them’ which is something he pays close attention to in the meteorology world. As we descend back to earth, we learn about one more way that he uses to give us an overview on what may be heading our way. He introduces us to a map of all lightning strikes, showing us the severity and direction of each and every storm. We learned that his team worked with Rolling Loud New York held at Citi Field along with many other big corporations and events. We came to the conclusion that Zeus, god of lightning doesn’t stand a chance when Mr. Stettner is around.”
- Nicholas Russell and Caleb Martin
Taking part in the Charity Challenge
“Historically, when the Tour Championship comes to East Lake, millions of dollars are donated to the East Lake foundation. The money is poured right back into the community through the First Tee Program and Drew Charter School. This year, I got the opportunity to interview some of the young golfers who were selected to participate in the Charity Challenge that took place on Aug. 24, 2022.
“Benjamin Harper is a senior at Drew and has been playing golf for about seven years and was recommended by his coaches from the First Tee of Metro Atlanta to play the 11th hole for the Charity Challenge. Ben says, ‘Being here gives me the chance to connect with a lot more people than I would usually connect with as a high school student.’ Ben reflects on the benefits of the Charity Challenge, sharing that ‘it provides my school and other black golf teams with exposure on TV to show our talents as well as benefiting my community (East Lake) for future years to come.’
“I also got the chance to have a conversation with Hailey Fisher, a Drew Charter graduate who attends University of Maryland Eastern Shore on a golf scholarship. She comes to the Tour as an HBCU representative to compete in the Charity Challenge. Hailey has been playing golf for about 12 years now and notes the significance of the Charity Challenge for her. ‘It can help me improve my golf career because I get to see how the tournament is run.’”
- Eleanor Jones