Throughout the TOUR Championship, a team of student correspondents from Drew Charter School are providing their perspectives on the week. This piece is written by Landon Bennett, a senior at Drew Charter School who plays for the boys’ varsity soccer team and serves as a peer leader and mentor for underclassmen.
The TOUR Championship is something that is very new to me. I live less than 10 minutes from East Lake Golf Club. I have grown up at Drew Charter School around the First Tee’s influence, and for as long as I can remember the TOUR Championship has taken place each year just a little way down the street, but I’ve never been inside the gates to experience the tournament firsthand. When my counselor Mr. Richardson asked if I would like to be an East Lake Correspondent, I was excited to finally be a part of something that was so big and so close to home.
When I first arrived here at the TOUR Championship, it was so much more than I could have imagined. It is such a beautiful course and nothing like any course that I’ve seen before. See the pros tee off was breathtaking. Until today, it’s something I had only seen on TV.
During my time on the course, I was able to meet two standard bearers that are a part of the First Tee and the East Lake Foundation. In case you don’t know, standard bearers are the people responsible for following the players from hole-to-hold while holding scoreboards (standards) to inform the spectators of the golfers’ score in the tournament.
Standard bearers at the TOUR Championship are all high school students, and many of them are my classmates at Drew Charter and participants of The First Tee of East Lake.
Earlier today, I spoke with two of this year’s standard bearers, Drew Charter seniors Christopher McCrary and his sister, Jordan McCrary. Both Christopher and Jordan have a background in golf, they play for Drew and are prominent members in The First Tee of East Lake. For the second round, Christopher was assigned to Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas. Jordan was with Justin Rose and Gary Woodland.
For Christopher, this is not his first time being a standard bearer. He explained to me that since this isn’t his first time he is not one bit nervous of the attention he may receive. He also explained to me how he is so grateful for the opportunity to be right in the action and how his background in golf has prepared him to serve in this role — knowing how to keep score and how to fulfill his responsibilities.
I asked Christopher if there were any notable differences between this year and last. He responded with a single word: Tiger. And with him, bigger crowd sizes and more excitement. Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy
Since this was Jordan McCrary’s first actual time being a standard bearer, she talked about how this was such an amazing opportunity for her to be a part of the tournament and how most students are not given this chance. She plans to take full advantage of it.
Jordan spoke about how excited she is to be holding the scoreboard for the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world. And even though it’s her first tournament, she’s not nervous either. Instead, she’s ready for her time.
Since she has an experienced background in golf, I am sure she will do a wonderful job representing Drew Charter and the East Lake community well.
After interviewing Jordan and Christopher, I was able to speak to one of the coordinators of the standard bearers, Roslyn Konter. She explained the importance of having the students involved and how the program has grown over time. Not so long ago, only one standard bearer was assigned to each player pairings. Now, the number of student standard bearers has doubled, with two for each pairing.
Each standard bearer commits to working at least two days during the tournament — typically one weekday and one weekend day. And many student-volunteers choose to return the following year.
“I have never met a kid that did not want to come back,” Konter said.
Overall, I can tell that the standard bearer program is a wonderful opportunity for students at Drew Charter and The First Tee of East Lake. The TOUR Championship itself is also hugely important for our community. It has given many of us the chance to meet some of our favorite athletes and, like me, see professional golf in-person for the very first time. For some, it may even open their eyes and minds to the possibility of playing golf professionally.
And as for Jordan and Christopher McCrary, I know they will do great and have a blast out there on the course.