Have You Ever Seen the Rain

By Brendan Havens, Big Break ProducerApril 15, 2008, 4:00 pm
Break Break: Ka December 6, 2007
5:06 a.m.
Lahaina, Maui

I am awakened by the sound of a driving rain. Ive been in Hawaii for seven days, and the sound has become surprisingly commonplace. The only reason Ive been stirred awake by this noise today is because its the first shoot day at 'Big Break: Kaanapali.'
Upon my arrival at the Maui International airport a week prior, I had been informed by one of the locals that they were bracing themselves for some Kona weather. My immediate thought was What the hell is Kona weather?, followed by Im not sure I like the way that sounds. Im in Hawaii, though. It was a beautiful breezy evening, and I had been standing in this exact spot not more than two months prior after spending four sun-filled days scouting the course/resort in preparation for the shoot. Nothing I had previously experienced would lead me to believe that there would be nothing but beautiful weather, and lots of it for the next three weeks. I would heavily regret that thought about 12 hours later.
Kona weather is caused when the trade winds (which come from the northeast) switch to Kona winds (which come from the southwest). When the trade winds blow, the northwestern section of Maui (which is where Kaanapali is located) is just absolute paradise, as all the rain and nasty weather is blocked by the west Maui mountains. When the Kona winds come, theres nothing to protect that section of the island from inclement weather, so whatever storms brew out in the Pacific slam directly into the west side of the island. I had been in Maui for not even a full day, and what followed for the next seven days was some of the worst weather Maui had seen in 20 or 30 years, and some of the heaviest downpours Ive ever experienced in person. This is coming from someone who lived thru the Central Florida hurricanes in the summer of 2004.
The week before shooting a Big Break is usually spent nailing down all the small details on site by various members of the production crew. In my case, there were two major details to contend with: the final logistics for the competitors race to the golf course and the two golf challenges in the first episode. For the five months prior to arriving in Maui, all challenges for every episode are conceptualized, tweaked several times, and eventually finalized. All that time, I was envisioning brilliant blue skies, a soft cool breeze, and a perfectly manicured golf course. I mean, its Hawaii, what else should be expected? So, when youre less than a week away from the first golf shot being hit on 'Big Break: Kaanapali' and theres nothing but torrential downpours, tropical storm strength winds, and a golf course completely underwater, panic slowly starts to set in.
The day after all the competitors arrived (one day before the first shot is hit) the plan was to shoot all of the show open elements with the ladies out on a boat just off the shoreline at Kaanapali. This would not happen as scheduled. (The shots you see in the open of all the ladies on the boat was shot on the one off-day halfway through the shoot) In fact, on this day, the day were supposed to be out in the middle of the ocean on a catamaran, the worst storm to hit western Maui in 30 years decided to make its way on shore. Luckily, we had put a contingency plan into effect two days prior, anticipating the worst. Theres an aquarium about 10 minutes from Kaanapali and we managed to get clearance to film all the girls close up shots inside this aquarium. So, all those cool shots youve been seeing in promos for the seriesthat was a contingency plan. Not bad, huh?
Thats not to say plan B went off without a hitch. While we were filming inside the aquarium, the weather outside got so bad that the roof of the aquarium started leakinglike, get-a-giant-garbage-can-to-catch-all-this-water-type leaks. We ended up getting stranded there for most of the afternoon because the only road back to Kaanapali had flooded completely over. And, we still were not sure if the course would be anywhere near playable in less than 24 hours.
Its now around 5:30 a.m., the morning of December 6. I get out of bed and draw the shade back from the sliding glass door in my hotel room to see what we have in store. As expected, the rain is still coming down and our first shoot day is in serious jeopardy. I get dressed and head to the hotel restaurant to get some breakfast, and discuss our options. Over our eggs, French toast, and Kona blend coffee we weigh every possible scenario. Can we shoot today? If we cant, how can we make up the time? Is it even possible to push the entire shoot back one day (which it wasnt), etc.? We were mere minutes from declaring the day a complete wash (no pun intended) when we hear the rain begin to let up. We emerge from the hotel to see a break in the clouds. There was no sunshine, but it was as much of a break as wed seen in days, so right then and there we decided to go full speed ahead and see if we could actually pull off this race. But we were in for yet another surprise.
We arrive at the section of beach that wed scouted to start the race. Mind you, we were standing on this very spot just six days ago and there was this beautiful wide, flat, pristine piece of shoreline. What we were now looking at was barely recognizable. Driftwood and random debris coated every inch of the beach. And to make matters even worse, the shoreline had been knocked back almost 20 ft by the unusually surging swells that had bombarded the beach for the past six days turning the normally crystal clear blue waters to a murky brown. There was also a battered, shipwrecked sail boat that washed ashore right where we had planned on starting the race, which just added to the incredibly eerie feeling of that morning. However, luck finally started turning in our favor. A state commissioned beach cleanup crew arrived just when we did and they volunteered to help clear off the section of beach that we needed to use. For the first time all week, I actually got the sense that we may get this done.
After a couple of heavy, but short downpours, we were actually ready to run this race. All the waiting, planning, and stressing would all be worth itas long as Mother Nature would cooperate with us for just a little bitand for 20 minutes she did. Team Pink and Team Orange finished neck and neck and then right before Team Purple came driving up to the tee, as you could see in the show, another downpour hits. I kid you not, the second we stopped rolling cameras, the rain immediately stopped, and the sun came out for the first time in seven days.
Now, I attribute this entire weather fiasco to one of two occurrences. The first would be an incident back in October while we were scouting the course at Kaanapali. The general manager of the Kaanapali golf courses, Ed Kageyama, was prompted with the following question, Whats the weather like the time of year were shooting? His response was, The winter is the rainy season, but we only get like seven inches of rain a year, so there shouldnt be anything to worry about. The official rain total for that first week was 14 inches. Thats rightdouble the annual rainfall in one week.
The second incident would be when we conceptualized and executed the start of the race. We took a Hawaiian tiki god, shoved a clue in it, and buried it in the sand. Hmmor maybe it was just the Kona weather.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Big Break: Ka'anapali
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    Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

    He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

    12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

    Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.

    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

    At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.

    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

    Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.

    1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

    Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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    Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

    By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

    HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

    It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

    Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

    It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

    ''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

    The reward now?

    ''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

    He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

    During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

    ''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

    Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

    ''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

    During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

    ''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

    It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

    Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

    And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

    It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

    ''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

    Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

    And not the Masters.

    He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

    ''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

    There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

    Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

    ''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

    He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

    ''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

    He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

    ''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

    Except for that first week in April.

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    The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

    By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

    The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

    All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

    By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

    Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

    As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

    While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

    Yeah, you heard that right.

    “I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

    Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

    Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

    Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

    As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

    Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

    Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

    A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

    Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

    With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

    First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

    “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

    Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

    We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

    The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

    These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

    Here's two more just for good measure.

    Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

    Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

    Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

    Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

    Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

    Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

    But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

    We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

    Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

    PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

    Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.

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    Spieth selected by peers to run for PAC chairman

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 6:43 pm

    Jordan Spieth may still be relatively young, but he has gained the confidence of some of the PGA Tour's most seasoned voices.

    Spieth is one of two players selected by the current player directors of the Tour's Policy Board to run for Chairman of the Player Advisory Council (PAC). Spieth will face Billy Hurley III in an election that will end Feb. 13, with the leading vote-getter replacing Davis Love III next year on the Policy Board for a three-year term through 2021.

    Last year's PAC chairman, Johnson Wagner, replaces Jason Bohn as a player director on the Policy Board beginning this year and running through 2020. Other existing player directors include Charley Hoffman (2017-19), Kevin Streelman (2017-19) and Love (2016-18).

    The 16-member PAC advises and consults with the Policy Board and Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on "issues affecting the Tour."

    In addition to Spieth and Hurley, other PAC members for 2018 include Daniel Berger, Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Chesson Hadley, James Hahn, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Geoff Ogilvy, Sam Saunders, Chris Stroud, Justin Thomas, Kyle Thompson and Cameron Tringale.