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
  • Getty Images

    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

    PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

    Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

    The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    The statement reads:

    The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

    The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

    The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

    The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.

    Good time to hang up on viewer call-ins

    By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

    Golf announced the most massive layoff in the industry’s history on Monday morning.

    Armchair referees around the world were given their pink slips.

    It’s a glorious jettisoning of unsolicited help.

    Goodbye and good riddance.

    The USGA and R&A’s announcement of a new set of protocols Monday will end the practice of viewer call-ins and emails in the reporting of rules infractions.

    “What we have heard from players and committees is ‘Let’s leave the rules and administration of the event to the players and those responsible for running the tournament,’” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status.


    The protocols, formed by a working group that included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America, also establish the use of rules officials to monitor the televised broadcasts of events.

    Additionally, the protocols will eliminate the two-shot penalty when a player signs an incorrect scorecard because the player was unaware of a violation.

    Yes, I can hear you folks saying armchair rules officials help make sure every meaningful infraction comes to light. I hear you saying they make the game better, more honest, by helping reduce the possibility somebody violates the rules to win.

    But at what cost?

    The chaos and mayhem armchair referees create can ruin the spirit of fair play every bit as much as an unreported violation. The chaos and mayhem armchair rules officials create can be as much a threat to fair play as the violations themselves.

    The Rules of Golf are devised to protect the integrity of the game, but perfectly good rules can be undermined by the manner and timeliness of their enforcement.

    We have seen the intervention of armchair referees go beyond the ruin of fair play in how a tournament should be conducted. We have seen it threaten the credibility of the game in the eyes of fans who can’t fathom the stupidity of a sport that cannot separate common-sense enforcement from absolute devotion to the letter of the law.

    In other sports, video review’s timely use helps officials get it right. In golf, video review too often makes it feel like the sport is getting it wrong, because timeliness matters in the spirit of fair play, because the retroactive nature of some punishments are as egregious as the violations themselves.  

    We saw that with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration this year.

    Yes, she deserved a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball, but she didn’t deserve the two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She had no idea she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

    We nearly saw the ruin of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, with Dustin Johnson’s victory clouded by the timing of a video review that left us all uncertain if the tournament was playing out under an incorrect scoreboard.

    “What these protocols are put in place for, really, is to make sure there are measures to identify the facts as soon as possible, in real time, so if there is an issue to be dealt with, that it can be handled quickly and decisively,” Pagel said.

    Amen again.

    We have pounded the USGA for making the game more complicated and less enjoyable than it ought to be, for creating controversy where common sense should prevail, so let’s applaud executive director Mike Davis, as well as the R&A, for putting common sense in play.

    Yes, this isn’t a perfect answer to handling rules violations.

    There are trap doors in the protocols that we are bound to see the game stumble into, because the game is so complex, but this is more than a good faith effort to make the game better.

    This is good governance.

    And compared to the glacial pace of major rules change of the past, this is swift.

    This is the USGA and R&A leading a charge.

    We’re seeing that with the radical modernization of the Rules of Golf scheduled to take effect in 2019. We saw it with the release of Decision 34/3-10 three weeks after Thompson’s loss at the ANA, with the decision limiting video review to “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standards. We’re hearing it with Davis’ recent comments about the “horrible” impact distance is having on the game, leading us to wonder if the USGA is in some way gearing up to take on the golf ball.

    Yes, the new video review protocols aren’t a panacea. Rules officials will still miss violations that should have been caught. There will be questions about level playing fields, about the fairness of stars getting more video review scrutiny than the rank and file. There will be questions about whether viewer complaints were relayed to rules officials.

    Golf, they say, isn’t a game of perfect, and neither is rules enforcement, though these protocols make too much sense to be pilloried. They should be applauded. They should solve a lot more problems than they create.

    Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

    By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

    Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

    David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

    “Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

    Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

    “I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

    Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

    The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

    Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

    Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

    1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

    2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

    While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”