Covering Pebble Beach

The way it should be. A couple players and caddies on the 18th at Pebble

I just got back from shooting the AT&T National Pro Am for Sports Illustrated and am still laughing at some of the situations photographers commonly run into when shooting the PGA Tour. Covering a golf tournament really is unlike any other sporting event. Let’s consider a few of the unique things about covering golf compared to other sports:

Football? 60 minutes of playing time on a field 100 yrds long.NBA? 48 minutes on a court about 94 feet long. Baseball: No time limit on a field 400feet long at it’s deepest.

PGA Tour: Four days on a course that’s typically over four miles long. But that’s the good part! Hustling along courses in often times beautiful locales is a plus in my book.

Along those four miles, though, are hundreds of “marshals.” These are the folks instructed (and I use that term very loosely) to enforce the general rules for spectators and media. If a spectator is talking on a cell phone, then they are supposed to stop them. They are also supposed to know the rules for what the media can and can’t do, but most of the time they are quite ill informed. Here’s a couple of examples from this past weekend: While waiting for the next group of players on the 9th tee, my assistant used her blackberry to access the scoreboard online to make sure we weren’t missing out on a player doing well on another course (they play on three at this tourney). Despite numerous spectators chatting and texting, the marshal opted to ask us to put it away. I had to politely inform her she was wrong and quickly pointed out that several nearby spectators, who are banned from bringing cells onto the course, were the ones she should be concerned about. Not to mention the woman using her point-and-shoot, another no-no for spectators. Then there was the marshal from hell who took great pride in nearly measuring the distance us photographers were inside the ropes (rules allow for credentialed media to be within 3 feet of the ropes) and quickly pointing for us to “get back.” This despite the fact that at one point I counted 18 people strolling in the middle of the fairway! (see photo). A crowded 18th fairway at Pebble BeachFrom “Honorary Guests” to scorers, spotters, caddies, amateurs, two tv cameramen, two sound techs etc.

The one that had us all laughing, though, was when we all awaited the winner of the tournament, Dustin Johnson, to pose for the traditional winners trophy shot. All the photographers, totaling about 20-30, gathered on the fringes of the 18th green and waited while a kind but persistent marshal repeatedly instructed us to “stay off of the green.” I guess his photographer vigilance kept him from seeing the two fans who had gone under the ropes and were lazily strolling, taking in the ocean views, in the middle of the same green. When we pointed it out with a laugh, the marshal himself couldn’t help but chuckle. Then he took off after them………..

Covering the PGA is definitely different than other sports, but it always counts for a good laugh or two.

Anyone have a funny marshal story, please share………

More Migrants Try to Enter US by Sea

Authorities again detained a boat off the San Diego coast that carried 23 suspected undocumented immigrants early Friday, Feb 5th, according to the Los Angeles Times. The boat was intercepted by a Coast Guard cutter on patrol nearly seven miles from land. In mid January another boat capsized while trying to come ashore at Torrey Pines State Beach in the northern part of the county which resulted in fatalities.

The migrants are loaded up in small pangas in Mexico and navigate mostly at night miles from shore without navigational equipment in hopes of entering California undetected. Recent security measures, including multiple layers of fencing, remote cameras and sensors and lighting, has made illegal entry by land very difficult and prompted more smugglers to try their luck ferrying their human cargo by sea.

I accompanied a Customs and Border Protection, the enforcement arm of the Dept of Homeland Security responsible for the nation’s borders, marine unit last spring. The unit employs high powered speed boats and is equipped with the latest technology for running “lights out” in an attempt to prevent the smugglers from breaching the border by sea. In addition, the CBP uses Black Hawk helicopters and other aircraft to work in tandem with the marine patrols.

To see images, click here