Thursday, December 22, 2011

TV scorer review of the Dubai World Championship

I volunteered to be a TV scorer for the recent Dubai World Championship.  I did not really know what to expect, other than knowing the position would have something to do with ensuring the TV coverage was as efficient as possible.

I attended the general volunteers meeting the week before the tournament, as well as the TV scorers meeting the evening before the tournament.  The role of a TV scorer involves following a specific group of players, recording their scores, reporting the playing order for the next shots, and reporting to the controller, if requested, whenever a specific player is about to play a shot.  Of the 29 groups of players at the Dubai World Championship, i.e. 60 players qualified to play, two chose not to attend (Justin Rose and Fredrik Jacobsen) and YE Yang retired during Round 1, TV scorers are only sent out with approximately eight groups, depending on I) the number of people who volunteered to be TV scorers, and II) the groups in which the key players would be playing.

For the first day of the tournament I was assigned to follow the group of Darren Clarke and Simon Dyson.  This worked out quite well as I managed to get the autograph of Darren Clarke on the 2011 Open Championship flag that I purchased over the Internet.  Unfortunately they did not play too well so my day was reasonably relaxed, i.e. given that they were playing poorly there was almost zero TV coverage of them during the round – all I had to do was report the scores for each hole to the TV control room.  Simon Dyson ended up last of the 57 players that made it through the first round, and Darren Clarke was not too far behind him.  After round 1 I was pleased to meet Gerry McIlroy, father of Rory McIlroy, in the clubhouse.

On day two I specifically requested to follow two South Africans that happened to be playing together, Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 US Masters Champion, and Hennie Otto, winner of the 2011 South African Open held a few weeks before the Dubai World Championship.  Both played reasonably well so my day was a little more active than the previous day.  Following the round I was able to catch Charl Schwartzel just as he was leaving the scorers’ tent.  When I attended the US Masters in April this year I returned with two 2011 US Masters flags in the hope of getting one signed by Charl.  He was kind enough to sign the flag with a personalized message to me, as shown in the photo below.

On day three I was assigned the group of Francesco Molinari and Shane Lowry.  This was again a fairly busy day as both players played quite well.

On the final day of the tournament I was assigned the group of Charl Schwartzel and Sergio Garcia.  This proved to be my busiest day, given that Charl was making a move early during the round.  I had to provide shot warnings each time that he played a shot, as well as reporting playing orders and hole scores to the TV control room.  The only hiccup occurred on the 17th hole when, for some reason that remains unexplained, the players switched orders and I was unable to provide the shot warning in time.  According to the scoring on the previous holes, Sergio Garcia had the honor on the 17th hole yet Charl Schwartzel played first, causing confusion in the TV control room and resulting in his tee shot on the 17th hole not being aired.  I did not manage to chat to his caddie to find out why he played out of turn. 

All in all it was a good experience to see what goes on behind the scenes, and being able to walk ‘inside the ropes’.  Despite the numerous blisters on my feet from the 40 km’s that I walked in four days, I enjoyed my time as a TV scorer at the Dubai World Championship.  The tournament ended with a fantastic victory by Alvaro Quiros, a member of my European Tour Fantasy Team for the week.  I was pleased to finish 349th out of more than 20,000 players in the European Tour Fantasy Game at the end of the year.  Not a bad achievement considering that this is the first time that I have taken part in the game.

Once again, congratulations to Luke Donald on leading both the US PGA Tour Money List and the Race to Dubai – this was the first time that a male golfer has lead the money list in the USA and Europe in the same season.  My comments are here.

The day ended with the announcement that once again, from 2012 to at least 2014, the final event of the European Tour Season will be held at the Jumeirah Golf Estates.  I look forward to working again in 2012 as a TV scorer.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dubai World Championship preview

UPDATE:  According to Ernie Els' diary on his website – here – he will be playing at the Dubai World Championship.  This is GREAT news, especially after his diary last week stated that his season was over for the year, and his schedule of events did not include the Dubai World Championship.  It will be good to see Ernie playing in his third Dubai World Championship – that makes eight South Africans in the field this week.

The Dubai World Championship is upon us.  The Top 60 golfers in the Race to Dubai have been decided and those who are playing in the Dubai World Championship have now arrived in Dubai (I understand that despite qualifying for the year-end event, Ernie Els and Justin Rose have decided not to play in the event (?!)).  I attended both previous Dubai World Championships and am looking forward to this one for a particular reason.  I have volunteered to be a TV scorer for all four days of the tournament.  This will be the first time that I have volunteered at a golf tournament, despite having attended many tournaments in the past.  From the time that I attended the Million Dollar Golf Tournament at Sun City when I was around 12, to when I attended the US Masters earlier this year, my visits to watch world class golf have been many.  For the Dubai World Championship to be played in my home ‘town’ makes it just that little bit more special, and I look forward to what promises to be an excellent week of golf.

I was fortunate to play the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates just a few weeks ago with the Jiggers Dubai Golf Society, of which I am a member.  The course is in fine condition, with the rough having been left to grow just that little bit longer in anticipation of the best golfers on the European Tour.  I am pleased to see that of the 60 players who qualified to play in the Dubai World Championship, eight of them are South African,  In order on the Race to Dubai, following the Hong Kong Open, they are Charl Schwartzel (4th), Louis Oosthuizen (14th), Thomas Aiken (20th), George Coetzee (27th), Retief Goosen (35th), Jaco Van Zyl (51st) Ernie Els (52nd – though he has elected not to play (?!)), and Hennie Otto (58th).

I look forward to what the week holds, specifically for my role as TV scorer.  I look forward to seeing what goes on behind the scenes, as well as being able to walk the fairways with some of the world's greatest golfers.  It is unlikely to improve my reasonably poor golf skill, but being a TV scorer should be a life highlight.

I will update, if known before arriving at the course, my ARNESTAD on Golf Twitter account with details of the group for which I am scoring.  At the end of the Dubai World Championship I will post a summary of the event.  Enjoy the week, and say nice things about Dubai!!