Kelly Sheehan here. As I reflect back on my experience, I am very proud of winning the first episode of Big Break Sandals Resorts. As things unfolded on episode two, one bad day turned into the end of an opportunity of a lifetime. My goal on the show was to not only win, but to utilize my 11 years of teaching experience and provide instructional tips throughout the show to the viewing audience. Unfortunately, my time was cut short, and I failed to accomplish this.
From the time I left the Big Break audition, I knew something was different about this time. Yes, I said this time; I had auditioned three times before. Failing is not an option for me, and I would have auditioned 20 more times until I got it. I got the call, and for the first time, I was not surprised. I had already started training physically and mentally. I had roughly a month from the time I found out until the time I stepped foot on the beautiful island of Exuma. I definitely had a disadvantage, as I had not played competitively in quite some time, and I was focused on working full time as a PGA & LPGA Teaching and Club Professional. I worked my full-time job at Reunion Resort and would practice after work until dark. I trained harder in the gym than I had ever trained before. As I would run on the treadmill, I would visualize winning challenges, which would make me train harder each day. The day before I left for the show, I could barely walk because I had trained so hard.
Over the month of preparing for the show, I tried to figure out how I could set my wardrobe apart from anything anyone has ever seen in golf. I dreamt up ideas and designed the shirts on my own. I hand-painted a shirt with an ace of hearts playing card on the back and lucky 7s in crystals. I also spray painted the Asian symbols “Strength,” “Courage” and “Success” on the back of a shirt. I created a shirt with silver angel wings on the back, and my trademark “Sheehan” shirt was inspired by a Rugby shirt. My parents’ birthdays were strategically placed on this shirt for motivation. I was highly disappointed that I did not get to show
With four suitcases and eight pairs of golf shoes packed, it really hit me what was happening. When (at the airport) I looked up and several crew members were staring at me, it was obvious they knew who I was, but I had no idea who they were, yet.
Upon arriving at Exuma, I found out the cast knew one another from competing against each other. There was a lot of chatter about who I was. I explained that despite my young girlish looks (thanks mom and dad), I am 32 years old and have been working as a PGA & LPGA Teaching and Club Professional for the past 11 years. As I was on the bus ride over to Sandals Resorts I was searching around me for the “old lady” as she has always been cool in previous seasons. I blurted out loud, “Oh my God, I am the old lady!”
The strong and confident person I trained to be faded quickly as I learned the entire cast was currently on tour. I envisioned a meeting to discuss what was going to go down, but as soon as I got off the plane (sweatpants and no makeup), the cameras were on. As soon as I was escorted to my hotel room by a butler, I unpacked and neatly arranged all 14 outfits. I never anticipated living in a house together, but this was another twist of the show that was revealed to us after we were settled into the hotel.
Each day, we were up at 5 a.m. and breakfast 5:30 a.m. There were three challenges and several interviews, which would put us to bed about 12 p.m. -1 a.m. I quite often found my hands trembling from nervousness when I was not even close to competition time. The first challenge was surreal, as we were transported to the location and given limited information. We got to the location, and there were at least 50 cameras waiting for us. Cameras on cranes, cameras on golf carts and some cameras so close, I felt like I was going to shatter a lens. I believe I was called out as the person to beat, and fortunately for me, I overcame adversity and won the challenge. I was not the slightest bit surprised by being considered the weakest player, because it was true; I haven’t played a really important tournament in 10 years!
As I watched the first show, I saw the goofy smile on my face after I won the challenge and remember the feeling of elation due to what I had just accomplished. Because I was the weakest player, I wanted to win even more. During the trip, we weren’t allowed to have cell phones, computers or any other type of interaction which could give us the extra bit of encouragement. As each competitor was eliminated, their bed would disappear the next day, a blunt reminder of how fast things were moving.
I am the person that has watched this show in previous seasons, yelling at the TV screen, “I could have hit that better than this bum,” but to be truly honest, it is so much harder than it looks. As I approached my last shot of the show, I took four balls with me, as I never had a doubt I would miss the green. As usual, I did not take much time over the ball and hit a terrible 8-iron shot which missed the green. The cameras zoomed in on me which made me realize quickly what I just lost. It was the easiest 8-iron of my life, and I didn’t even make the green.
I am better than that. I immediately went into my final interview. I was visibly upset and did not quite represent myself in the positive, upbeat manner which defines who I am. I really treated this experience as a job, and the next day, I couldn’t accept what had transpired the day before. I kept trying to figure out how I could contact the producers to give me another chance. I constantly relived that easy 8-iron in my head for days, even weeks after the challenge. Shortly after being eliminated, we filmed a redemption shot and to add to the fire, I easily hit a 3-pointer on my first try, which would have led me to the next show.
I will forever remember this wild ride of emotions, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity the Golf Channel Producers gave me. The biggest disappointment of getting cut early was that I did not get a chance to thank my mother (Farrell Sheehan) and father (Tom Sheehan) enough for always believing in me and giving me support throughout my golf career and my life. Not to mention my brother (Mike Sheehan), for helping me to follow in his competitive golf footsteps.
I not only wanted to be a role model, but I wanted to be “Rudy” of Big Break Sandals Resorts, the underdog contestant that perseveres and overcomes all odds to win the show.
In my near future, I look forward to growing the game of golf for women through instruction and exclusive golf trips. This experience has already given me the opportunity to work with Michael Breed on The Golf Fix which was awesome! I look forward to future opportunities like this. Keep an eye out for me on the lesson tee and maybe even the leaderboard. I am not giving up yet.