$50K or Exemption?

By Big Break ProducerOctober 3, 2012, 2:00 pm

I’m in the business of making golfer’s dreams come true.  That statement may sound a little profound but I believe it to be the truth. I (along with many talented people) produce a series that help struggling professional golfers realize their dream of playing on the PGA TOUR.  That’s our sales pitch to the over 3,400 people that tried out for this show. And for the 12 guys we selected, their dream is exactly what is on the line– a spot in the field to tee it up with the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson and many other world class players. That and $50K… not to mention a whole assortment of other great prizes.

With that said, I think it’s safe to say my statement holds water. We are in the business of making golfer’s dreams come true.

The reason I bring up the prize package and the PGA TOUR exemption is because I wanted to give you insight as to what our cast valued more.  When asked the question (ask yourself as well):

If you could have only ONE of the following what would you take?

            $50,000 or a PGA TOUR exemption?

The cast of Greenbrier overwhelmingly replied EXEMPTION!  I thought maybe one or two guys might have said the cash but all 12 went with the exemption.  Their reasoning: the possibilities of a spot in the field on the PGA Tour can be endless for guys like them.  So when the players are talking about pressure, the nature of Big Break and how ‘under-the-gun’ they feel from their 1st shot to their last, that’s what they’re thinking about… they’re thinking about being so close to their dream they can taste it and they don’t want to screw it up.

That’s what Big Break is all about to our cast and how it mirrors my sentiment towards a series I love so much. 

Onto the show.

Glass Break

This was a very cool challenge that took over a month to finalize.  In the end, it came out like we hoped.  We wanted to know which players were the gamblers (Isaac, Rick, Liam, James, Brian), which players were the cerebral-thinking types (Chan, Mike, Mark) and the ones who flew by the seat of their pants (Anthony, Derek, Stuart, Ray).

This challenge was tough for the competitors not only from a golfing stand-point but from a mental standpoint which is the goal for any Big Break challenge. Quick facts/Comments: Ray Beaufils goes down as the 1st player in Big Break history to attempt a throw while in competition during the glass break.

James’ breaking of the glass may be the fastest ever in Big Break history… it was certainly the most impressive 1st shot I’ve seen on Big Break.  25 yards away, 1 shot – break – thanks for coming.  Not bad for guy who has stepped away from 2 years ago to start his own shoe company.

Liam and Rick both broke their panes at the exact same time…down to the hundredth. When we went to record Liam’s time, we were as surprised as he was… if not more.

Anthony “that’s how you break glass” Casalino! His new son will be quite proud of Dad when he greets the world sometime in December.


We did something very similar to this challenge at Big Break Disney but I much prefer this format.  I liked that each guy got 2 shots; I loved the choice element where the players chose their distances and I was NOT surprised that 310 was the lowest ‘SAFE’ score.  Kudos to Mike for employing a very ballsy strategy.  As a former college basketball player and career 75% free throw shooter, Mike’s thinking when he saw the challenge – it’s a free throw contest – hit the same 2 shots, move on.

Isaac is the biggest gambler on the cast and ALWAYS tries to win a challenge.  2nd place (to quote one of Rick Cochran’s favorite Will Ferrell characters) is never good enough: “if you’re not 1st, you’re last.”

Mark’s combined distance on his two shots (proximity to the hole from 154/195 yards) was 18 feet 10 inches. That’s pretty good considering his 1st shot measured a little less than 15 feet.

Derek chose two distances he felt were perfect for him.  Standing next to him, he hit the center of the clubface on both shots.  But he forgot to factor in the adrenaline factor and it cost him.  Normal 9 iron for Derek = 154 (show 1 distance: 173 yards).  Normal 6 iron for Derek = 188 (show 1 distance: 201 yards).


I was completely shocked by Derek’s pick of Isaac.  On the range the entire cast was saying he HAS to choose Stu.  They were commenting that Stu had missed both shots in the approach challenge worse than Isaac and Derek’s length, especially on a par-five, favors D-Boh (as he’s known on the mini-tours).  MAKE NO MISTAKE, Stu can golf his ball and was absolutely killing it on the range.  He remains an enigma to the cast and even for us producers.  On any given challenge, no one knows which Stu will show up… I have to believe Derek will always wonder if he made the right decision.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.