Reality Sets In

By October 7, 2003, 4:00 pm
The Golf Channel debuted The Big Break Tuesday night, its original series in which 10 scratch golfers from around the country compete in a weekly showdown of golf skills challenges. The last man standing wins the big break of his golfing career- exemptions into four Canadian Tour events airing on The Golf Channel in 2004.
Flying in from all over the country, the competitors gathered in a conference room in Detroit to meet the competition and get their first glimpse of the strange golfing trip that lay ahead.
A four-hour bus ride from Detroit north up to Gaylord, Mich., afforded each contestant a chance to size up the competition and to get to know each other on a more personal level. Favorite golf tales were shared and there were plenty of laughs. But this was of course just the beginning.
The Big BreakThe 10 men finally arrived at what would be their home for the duration of the competition' a five-room log cabin on a secluded dirt road - not exactly what several had in mind.
We were pretty surprised to see it, to be honest with you, said Garrett Garland, the 56-year-old business executive from Northridge, Cal.
Others were not as disappointed.
I was just glad it wasnt a tent, said a relieved Anthony Sorentino.
Following a long day of travel, the group enjoyed a barbeque and a few beers before calling it a night. Dawn would signal the beginning of the skills challenges that would ultimately whittle the group down to one.
I think I got up earlier than usual. I normally dont get out of bed, said an excited Jeff Brown, 40, an operations manager with the Federal Aviation Administration. My wife, she has to kick, prod, do anything she can to get me out of bed. But this morning, man, I was up ready to go.
Arriving early at the TreeTops Resort, the competitors received their best news of the day from co-host Katherine Roberts - the first show was going to allow them to get their feet wet and no one would face elimination.
That, of course, was met with unanimous approval from the gang of would-be tour professionals.
The first challenge required each man to hit a knock-down shot - the goal being to shatter a small, square plane of glass, sitting on a pole about four feet high and 40 yards away.
Quickly the shots began to fly, each contestant taking dead aim at their target. And within seconds, the sound of breaking glass echoed through the practice range. With an errant swing, Mark Farnham had inadvertently broken Jeff Browns glass.
Thank you Mark, my friend, responded an obviously delighted Brown, who despite not breaking his own glass, was declared the winner of the challenge.
The Big BreakThe only player unable to break his glass was Steve Duemig. The 49-year-old radio host from Tampa, Fla., got the last laugh when he walked up to his target and threw a ball through the glass, the sound of which must have relieved a good bit of stress.
No one wants to finish last, but I did, said a not-too upset Duemig. I can hit that shot all day long, its just I didnt hit the glass, thats all. But, you know, its kind of embarrassing.
The final challenge of the day facing the competitors was a 400-yard tee shot down a narrow, deserted, paved road to a large red wall at the end. The first man to hit the target got the keys to a brand new Club Car golf cart.
As a group they did not perform well. Most of the competitors shots drifted left and into the trees that lined the road. Randy Blocks tee ball was the only one that even sniffed the target.
I thought for sure someone would get it, mentioned Sorentino about the Club Car that was up for stake. I was just hoping it would be me.
With their skills challenges over and the players more aware of what to expect, the group returned to the cabin knowing the next day things were going to get serious.
Someone was going to go home.
The laughing and the joking, to me, it comes to an end, said the outgoing Charles Calhoun. Today was fun, entertaining, but its time for it to come to an end, because this is serious business. And this is serious to me.
Be sure to tune in to The Golf Channel next Tuesday at 9:00PM (ET) as the first competitor will fail to capitalize on what could have been his Big Break.
Related Links:
  • The Big Break Home
  • Airtimes for The Big Break
  • Discussion Boards - Talk about the show
    The Big Break
  • Getty Images

    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

    Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.