Big Break NFL Producer Blog: You Can't Do That

By Big Break ProducerDecember 11, 2013, 3:00 am

Occasionally, we Big Break producers will get feedback from viewers about the level of play on a particular series or episode.  Okay, it happens all the time.

The most common critique of the show is some variation of how “the golf is really not very good this season”.  How could five pros miss the green from 120 yards?  All they had to do was hit the green?!?

But my favorite assessment is “I could get myself and eleven regulars from my local course and we would beat this cast.”

No, you wouldn’t.

Sure, we have tons of viewers who can flat out play.  (Maybe we’ll see you at an audition soon?  Have you sent in your application?)  But I’m not buying it until I see you hit a tee shot into the fairway with nine cameras in your face and your job on the line if you miss.

There are tons of viewers out there who “get it”.  Taping an entire series over the course of a couple weeks is a massive undertaking, for the players and crew alike.  The crew is the best in the business and most of us have been doing this for many years and/or seasons.  But any way you slice it (no pun intended), it takes time to move our traveling circus around a golf course.

Generally, players will start warming up on the range at about 7am, and once we move out to the location of the day’s first challenge, we have to go over the rules of engagement.  Order of play is almost always chosen randomly, and that’s usually accomplished by drawing numbered golf balls from a bag under the watchful eye of our esteemed rules official, Kent Kahre.  Once the cameras are set and rolling, players are allowed to check out the relevant portions of the hole, and plan their strategy.  By the time we’re ready to hit golf shots, it’s not uncommon for an hour to have passed since the players warmed up.  If a player should happen to draw a number at the end of the order, they’ll be waiting even longer.  

Considering all of that—not to mention the fact that a poor performance can send you packing and seriously derail your chances of achieving your dream—it’s not so hard to see why players consistently say that Big Break pressure is greater than any they’ve felt, even when compared to playing in a major championship.

Want to try it yourself?  Go to a course you’ve never seen before and try to hit a green from 120 yards.  Remember, you get one shot at it.  Before your attempt, call everyone you know and tell them you’re going to do it—but wait!  Now get the national news to come out and record your one and only shot.  Don’t take any practice swings for at least 60 minutes before your big moment, and for good measure, get your boss to agree that if you miss the green, you’re fired.

Okay GO!

In episode 10, the players finally got a chance to hit it, chase it, and hit it again – and the results were inspiring.

Far removed from their true areas of expertise on the gridiron, or even their usual, spirited, 18-hole battles on the links for “The Cup”, Jerry and Tim stepped up with big-time pars.

Emily and Will followed with level-par aggregates on the second and third holes.  Emily, still harboring the demons of a balky putter, rose to the occasion with her solid par conversion on their first hole.  On the next, a par-5, Will showed true grit and guts in taking one for the team (laying up) and then draining one for the team (“Buckets!”).

And what can you say about Mallory and Isaac that wasn’t already said during the show?

One thing I can tell you is that the crew was engulfed in this match.  For the most part, the Big Break crew is incredibly golf savvy.  It’s not uncommon to catch a camera man sneaking in a quick nine at the end of a shoot day.  Yet during a taping, it’s all business.  Everyone has one eye on the action, and the other on whatever it is they’re responsible for not screwing up.

By the time Mallory and Isaac reached the final hole of regulation, the chatter between shots grew quieter.  The hired help became one part tv production crew and one part golf gallery.  When shots were hit, you could almost hear people holding their breath over the radio.

Given the chance to golf their ball, Big Break contestants can excel.  But the majority of the series is an array of skills challenges, and sometimes that can make great players look rather pedestrian.  Give them two holes, three holes, and amazing things can happen.  Even with all those cameras, and with all that pressure.

Maybe you and eleven of your best golf buddies can do it, too.  But I doubt it.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.