Graduation Day

By Brendan Havens, Big Break ProducerJuly 19, 2011, 12:43 pm

As I, and other Producers of Big Break, have attested to at different points in time over the course of our ramblings and incoherent thoughts via these Producer Blogs for the last seven seasons, a Big Break shoot can feel a bit like a twisted version of summer camp.  You’re away from home for weeks on end with only those on the production crew filling in as your day-to-day friends and/or enemies; there’s laughs, there’s bickering and there’s the occasional sing-along around the fire pit.  Yes, we do have some pretty damn good musicians on the crew (present company included).  We also manage to take some time out of our exorbitantly busy schedules to blow off some steam and experience the local flavor of our present location.  I mean, we HAVE to.  After all…all work and no play makes Jack…something, something…

The crew’s favorite hangout by an overwhelming margin was Agave Sunset (the Hyatt Grand Champions hotel bar) and with only one day remaining in the competition, a good portion of us had to tip a pint or two to bid adieu to our watering hole of choice for the preceding three weeks.  

So, as the final notes of The Art of Sax reverberate throughout Agave Sunset, and the crowd of billionaires, cougars and sabertooth tigers lavish their praise upon them, myself and a few of the remaining crew members take in this absolutely one-of-a-kind scene one last time before signing off.  Amidst the cacophony of cheers, drunken peripheral conversations and a wailing saxophone solo, I glance down at my watch.  It’s 1am.  In just 6 ½ short hours, David and Kent will tee it up to decide who will be crowned Champion of Big Break Indian Wells.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why in the h*** are these guys still at the bar at 1am the night before the finale?”  Well, to be completely honest, the select few of us still enjoying the proceedings probably should have been in bed resting up for the final day; but we had been going 100mph straight ahead for the majority of the past month, working 12-16 hour days whilst surviving mainly on Red Bull, coffee and limited sleep.  So with the shoot’s impending swan song approaching, why mess with success, right?  Also, the bar scene on a Saturday night at the Hyatt is THAT entertaining.  I urge you to check it out upon your next golf excursion to Indian Wells.  Heck, just go if you’re in the vicinity of Palm Springs, period.  I guarantee some truly entertaining bar scenes.  Man, I miss that place…but I digress…

“Finale Day” of a Big Break shoot feels a lot like graduation day.  You’re so happy and relieved that it’s all finally come to an end, but there’s definitely a bittersweet quality to the conclusion of the competition.  Cast and crew alike have been connected at the hip for the better part of three weeks and no matter how much you cannot wait to get a full eight hours of sleep in your own bed, Indian Wells was our home for the better part of a month.  And for those who’ve been to summer camp, you all know that feeling.  That last day is always a tough one.  

But, let’s put all that aside for the time being and reserve a moment for our newest champion.  David Byrne.  For one, I cannot say enough good things about this character of this kid (and yes he IS a kid…23-friggin’-years old).  For him to come into this competition with ZERO events as a professional under his belt and day after day fight his way into the next episode - - I consider this to be one of the most impressively tenacious runs to a championship that I’ve ever experienced in my Big Break career.  David plays golf the way he’s lived his young life; grinding for every little bit that he can get in order to survive through to the next day while always keeping his eye on the intended destination.  David needed this Big Break (literally and figuratively) more than many ever had before him.  Being part of a cast comprised of so many great stories (see my Series Preview blog entry), David’s was quite possibly one of the best, if not the most personal and inspirational.  So, if you think about it in that light, David was the best candidate to come out of this series with all the cash.  All the hard work he and his mom put forth just to get him in position to take advantage of a break when it finally came along, proved to be worth all the blood, sweat and tears.  First professional event, first win.  Congratulations David.  Today was YOUR graduation day.

Oh, and David…since you didn’t get a chance to frequent Agave Sunset while competing in the series, make sure you check it out when you take your trip back.  And make sure you go on a Saturday night.  Man, I miss that place…

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: