All sorts of emotions ripped through the audience gathered to watch Golf Channel’s latest edition of Big Break Florida inside the clubhouse at Omni Amelia Island Plantation. The crowd burst out laughing when Mary Narzisi, the outspoken personality from Omaha, Neb., offered up a biting comment during interviews. They cheered when Narzisi and Tonya McCall – who were there watching as well – hit good shots during their challenges. And there was genuine sadness when McCall was ousted from the show by Narzisi in an elimination challenge. McCall, a mother of two sitting in the back of the room, couldn’t help but shed a few tears reliving the moment.
It’s this rollercoaster ride of heartache and victory that has endeared the golf reality series to audiences like this one gathered for a corporate “watch party” at the host resort. Enjoying the show were Omni clients, media, tour operators, four Big Break participants and resort personnel who worked tirelessly while the episodes were shot last year. Earlier in the day, the group attempted some of the Big Break’s most popular skills challenges, including hitting flop shots over a wall and “breaking the glass.”
In its 21st season, the Big Break franchise hasn’t lost any momentum. The third episode of Big Break Florida – which aired March 10 - garnered an average of 441,000 viewers, making it the most-watched Big Break episode as well as the most-watched episode premiere of any Golf Channel "original series" - surpassing The Haney Project with Charles Barkley in March, 2009 (435,000 viewers) and Feherty with Lee Trevino in June, 2011 (368,000 viewers).
Big Break Florida features a cast of 12 female aspiring professional golfers who are competing for more than $175,000 in cash and prizes - the largest collection of prizes in series history - and an opportunity to play on the LPGA TOUR at the 2014 Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.
One thought drove McCall throughout filming. “When Molly (her oldest child) watches, I want her to think, ‘I want to be like mom’,” she said.
Narzisi, who played golf at the University of Minnesota, says being on the show taught her a lot. “You learn how to play under pressure, how to deal with things and keep going,” she said. “It’s all about survival.”
The final episodes of Big Break Florida air at 9 p.m. every Monday night on Golf Channel.