Before going on Big Break you accept that along with a golf competition, you are going to be on a reality television show where drama is emphasized at every turn. First, you have the drama that is the continuous roller coaster ride of adrenaline which starts from the time you first find out you are going to be on the show, until the very last shot is holed. As a competitor, you strive to put yourself in positions where you are learning to control and feed off your adrenaline and battle your nerves. This is why you practice, and this is what you love about competition.
Second, you have the drama that is reality television. While this is significantly less appealing, it certainly creates a high tension atmosphere that is one of the reasons the show has been so successful for fourteen seasons. With that said, let’s talk about some of the golf that was played in the fifth episode and what we can look forward to next week.
The first challenge by the women was one of the most impressive performances in a show that has been filled with quality golf. In Big Break Disney Golf, the winning team in this challenge had a whopping score of two, so to hit 12 shots like that was impressive.
In the Hit Below the Wall Challenge, we were able to knot it up at one with great play from both Football and Brian. That led to the final challenge of the morning which was another barn-burner. With a score of 9’4” in some good wind on a tough green, we felt like we were able to put the pressure on the ladies to have to go up there and hit a really good shot to beat us. On their last ball, Sara was able to do just that and prove again that she can hit the shots when it’s on her shoulders.
This led to the final shot of the Waste Management Challenge, where $15,000 was on the line. Throughout this four-episode challenge, the six players from both teams went up there and hit really good golf shots when their team has relied on them. In the fourth challenge, Lori and I were to hit from 100 yards to a tough pin. Lori gets up there and hits what appears to be pretty tight, but just spins it back to about 20 feet. At this point, I wasn’t sure of the exact yardage that I needed to hit it to win, but I knew anything inside of 30 feet was going to give the guys a much needed win which might be enough to turn the tide. The wind was blowing about 15-20 MPH from left to right and into my face, and I knew that I needed to keep the ball behind the pin, because anything short would spin off the green. After visualizing the shot just the way I wanted to hit it, I got up to the ball and swung. The contact was pure, but I closed the face on it and knew I tugged it left of where I wanted to hit it. As the ball finished up, I knew it was close, but honestly I thought that it was outside the 33 feet that was needed to win.
The next five minutes of waiting to find out the result was gut wrenching. One thing our team agreed upon before the entire competition began was that we were not going to apologize as long as we had left it out on the course. I knew I left it all out there, but I felt that I had let them down. For the guys to go up there and hit it to 10, 6, and 9 feet respectively and to not capitalize on the opportunity to put money in their pockets and give us some possibility of momentum going forward would have been tough to swallow. With that said, we stood up there as a team, as one unit, waiting to hear what Tom and Stephanie had to say. When they told us that we had won by a foot and a half, I felt pure relief, and for the guys to all huddle around as we did, just proved to me that our team was starting to truly get this concept of what it was to be a team. They had done a great job of putting me in that position, and I was just happy that the inches fell our way this time.
The Waste Management Challenge was one step in the right direction, and I knew that the Benching Challenge would be huge this episode particularly. If we could overcome that one stroke advantage, all of the sudden the momentum would be on our side. We needed a positive day, and this was our chance. I personally thought that it would be Blake or I who would be picked, but I didn’t figure that Elena would be the ladies’ choice. When she came up to me and told me we were going to tee it, I got the biggest shot of adrenaline through my body. Many people ask me what kind of music I practice to, especially if I am warming up before an important competition. The consensus seems to be something to relax the mind, but I’m a little different. You see, for some reason I still think I am a football player, so I turned my iPod to the Rocky soundtrack and allowed Bill Conti’s masterpiece to get me as pumped up as it could. After hearing Mick yell into my ear enough times, I knew I was ready to go the distance, however Mother Nature had different plans. The rain poured for about a half hour before it was obvious golf was over for the day.
While I was pumped up to play that afternoon, I knew that the weather delay would only benefit our team. While I’ve only been playing professionally for a year and a half, I know that these delays can do one of two things: it can help you go over your plan one more time and give you the proper time to visualize the shots that need to be hit, or it you can let your mind wonder and think about what the results of the competition will mean to you. It’s very easy to slip into the latter, so I knew that I needed to get a good night’s rest and focus on what I could control. Before I went to bed, I went through the two holes in my mind one final time. Before I went to sleep, I read part of President Theodore Roosevelt’s speech to the Paris Sorbonne, which I believe is still one of the best statements ever made.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Time for us to turn this competition around, right now!