It’s that time again, kids. Time for another round of incoherent thoughts and ramblings from yours truly, Senior Big Break Producer, Brendan Havens. Two weeks ago, fellow Producer, Jon Painter, took you inside the challenge of hiding the #1 player in the world; and last week Scott Lee lamented about having to work…rather than go down Atlantis’s many waterslides. Well, I’m back this week to talk with you wonderful people about an inevitability that hangs over us every day of our lives whilst engaged in every facet of this massive production known as Big Break. What do you do when things go wrong?
I feel it’s time to bring this up, because this was an episode where some things certainly did go wrong. Most of the missteps are completely undetectable by 99% of the viewing public. Yet, some are much more obvious than others. Let’s start with the obvious, shall we?
Aubrey’s lone experience with Speed Golf was…um…well…as Tom so eloquently put it “this has gone absolutely pear shaped for her”. Yup. This was clearly one of the things that did go wrong. This type of thing happens, and there’s really not much we can do about it. The competitors are all human, and once the human element is introduced into the equation, the answer you’re looking for doesn’t necessarily add up correctly; and in Aubrey’s case, we definitely needed a calculator to check our math (literally and figuratively).
Whereas Aubrey’s misfortunes were a very visual representation of what can go wrong, the challenge that followed the entertainment juggernaut known as Speed Golf went on to become a prime example of a challenge that went horribly wrong….but you’d never know it by the final product. The challenge I speak of is Lone Wolf. If Ahab had his white whale, Lone Wolf was my white wolf.
The idea first came about because I would play the weekend-golfer gambling version of this game with my friends. It’s a really fun game to play (especially when a few adult beverages have been consumed), so naturally I thought, hey…we should do this as a challenge on Big Break.
The first incarnation of Big Break’s version of Lone Wolf dates way back to late 2007 as we were coming up with new challenge ideas for Big Break Ka’anapali. The original idea was to play it exactly the way a game of Wolf would be played in a weekend round with your buddies (4 people, full holes of golf). It proved to be too much challenge to fit in a show and was scratched from the final show plan. So, we did what we traditionally do with unused challenges and sent it away to the Island of Misfit Challenges, in the wonderful world of Imaginationland.
Every time we begin pre-production on another Big Break, we take a trip to this mystical island and take a good look at those challenges formerly cast away. In every one of my subsequent seasons, this bear (or should I say wolf) of a challenge continued to resurface…only to be cast away time after time. Finally, nearly 5 years later, and numerous format/rules changes later, Lone Wolf was finally going to be saved from desertion once again. Here’s where things begin to go horribly wrong.
The first sign that this challenge would be, well…a challenge, was when we explained the rules to the girls. We all had assumed that anyone who’s ever played the game of golf on a regular basis knows the game of Wolf and our rules tweaks would be handled quite easily. Selanee was the only one who had ever played the game before and much confusion would ensue. Well, you know how the ol’ saying goes. When you assume…
The point structure definitely didn’t help with things either. I understand why we gave more points to the Lone Wolf for a tie, but in hindsight, all 3 competitors should have just split the 6 points in that situation. The whole 4, 1, 1 thing just confused the heck out of everyone. Now I tell you what, one of the worst parts of doing a challenge that nobody fully understands is trying to get the soundbites you need from the interview later that evening. Let’s just say, we all stayed up later than we would have liked.
To me, the biggest oversight in doing this challenge was going with the game of Lone Wolf to begin with. The main reason this game works so well with your buddies is that it helps the lesser skilled players in the group keep up and not get their wallets totally cleaned out by the end of the round. The best example of this is the fact that Kelly actually had a chance to win Immunity during the final location. She didn’t really hit a single quality shot in the entire challenge, to be perfectly honest…yet she still had a chance to save herself. Sure, as we’ve all seen in this series over the years, this type of thing will happen in a team challenge, but the difference in that scenario is that the player (or players) hitting the quality shots on the team win Immunity as well. Essentially, by Selanee holing two huge putts, Kelly was not only bailed out, but was given the opportunity to win Immunity AND actually send Selanee to the Elimination Challenge. This concept works great for a few bucks between hackers on the weekend…not so much when a gigantic prize package is on the line.
In that sense, we did not execute this particular challenge the way in which we would have liked, but really…it did work out in the end. Gloriana and Natalia were the two who played the best and won Immunity and you know what…the challenge was pretty darn entertaining.
And so it goes. That’s life of a TV Producer. When everything goes wrong, you just have to find a way to make it right. You meticulously plan for months on end just so everything can succeed as you’ve envisioned in that wonderful, though sometimes highly unrealistic, Imaginationland command center of our brain. Unfortunately, the laws of physics don’t apply in Imaginationland and that’s where we can run into these afore mentioned snags. Lone Wolf spent so much time in Imaginationland, it lost much of what would have made it really work in reality. So, long story short, don’t expect to see Lone Wolf ever again…
When Everything Goes Wrong Ill Make it Right
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.
Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.
"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"
The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.
"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.
Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.
"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."
Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.
Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.
"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."
Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.
"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.
When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.
The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.
The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.