If at First You Don’t Succeed…
Ok. So I’ll just get this right out of the way. This season’s finale was a blowout. A thrashing. A flogging. A good ol’ fashioned donnybrook (ok, maybe that was not the right word, but I’ve always wanted to use it in a sentence). From the 1st swing of the day, Jackie was in complete control of this match and never once gave Fiamma hope of a comeback. Granted, Fiamma did a lot of this to herself, but much of this had to do with the fact that Jackie never once gave her a chance to sneak back in to the match. Pars are your best friend in Match Play, and Jackie made BEST friends with the old man. So, rather than muse on and on about what Fiamma could have done better (a few putts falling would have been HUGE), I’m gonna go a different route, as I tend to do.
Welcome to the final installment of this season’s incoherent thoughts and ramblings of Big Break Florida Lead Producer, Brendan Havens.
Assembling a cast for each season of Big Break is quite possibly the most important part of the pre-production stage. Sure, everyone loves the Glass Break and all the other crazy challenges we pull together as a result of some super vivid fever dream, but it’s really the competitors and the dynamics between them that pull the whole thing together. After all, these people are the reason you’ll be tuning in each and every week and if they can’t peak your interest, you have no series. This is why it’s crazy to think that Jackie and Fiamma didn’t get cast the 1st time they auditioned. In fact, each of them auditioned for the series four separate times (FOUR!!!) and each was on the alternate list at one point or another. So, it actually seems rather fitting that these were the two players left standing in the final episode.
What took us so long, you may ask? Well, the quick answer is that it wasn’t until this particular season that they both had the right fit for a cast of 12 aspiring professional golfers. It’s a little more involved than that, though. On this cast, in particular, half of them had previously auditioned at least once before being selected (Jackie, Fiamma, Mary, Renee, Kylee and Lauren). This is actually more common than one may think. Most of the recent casts we’ve put together are comprised of a handful of people that we’ve met once or twice during the audition process of previous seasons. So, why is this? There are many factors at play, but mainly it has to do with how we predict the interplay will be between the cast members. We would never want a cast full of the same type of person. In order to root for (or against, for that matter), each competitor needs to be unique onto themselves. When we spend the majority of the series with a good number of competitors (generally, we don’t get down to 4 or 5 competitors until very late in the series), you need to be able to pick all the individuals out of the larger group.
For certain people, they just need another year (or two) to mature/find their own voice/get comfortable with who they are before we feel they’re ready to be put under the bright, bright lights of the Big Break competition. And really, some just have a bad audition. Simple as that.
The fact that Jackie and Fiamma not only kept chasing their dream of playing on the LPGA, but kept persisting on becoming part of the Big Break competition says a lot about who they are and what the character of their golf game consists of. Because of her small stature, Fiamma’s never really been taken seriously as a professional golfer. Although she didn’t bring her “A” game to the Championship Match, she’s proven over the course of this season that she really can play this game. Jackie said it when we went to visit her in Vero Beach before the competition began. Her whole life she’s been overlooked and discounted. She was never highly recruited. She was not expected to do anything of note out on the Symetra Tour. She was never expected to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open. It only seems fitting that after trying so many times to get on the show, she took full advantage of the opportunity she was finally given. Congratulations Jackie. You’re (finally!) the Big Break Champion.