Time to Work on My 5 Iron Putting


Some people have asked me if I’ve become a celebrity now that the show’s aired, and while there has definitely been more attention, nobody is recognizing me at the local Starbucks. Tim Horton’s though...that’s a different story. “Double double for you James?” You bet!

I’ll tell you one thing that is funny. Usually we set up a Big Break watching party in my home city of Abbotsford where friends and family come out and watch. This week, however, I’ve been in Edmonton, so I received numerous texts from friends in Abby fearing that I was eliminated because nothing was planned. Why would I plan a get together to watch me get eliminated, right? So I guess from now on I’ll be planning a party no matter what. I don’t want to give anything away!

Then again, apparently there are people out there that know the final results. And that their little secret is safe with me. The problem is that people are POSITIVE that I won, finished second, third, fourth....and down the line. So to those that were sure I was eliminated this past episode, your 100% positivity is correct only some of the time.

Episode 3 presented some interesting challenges. In the first immunity challenge I was pitted against my good buddy, Rick, because nobody drafted us at the breakfast table. Rick shot 63 in our practice round at the Greenbrier and that was about as high as he could have shot – good reason not to pick him. I suppose I wasn’t picked because at that point they knew the power of the saucer pass (I had been saucing around the house in similar fashion to at the warehouse). I’m kidding. In all seriousness, I think I wasn’t picked because I performed well in the glass breaking and draw-fade wall challenge. Here’s Rick and I walking up to the challenge.

Rick and I played the first challenge in the way I thought the producers designed it to be played, slowly increasing in distance from the previous guy, hitting the fairway. The other guys sure did things differently though.

I found the strategies of the guys that hit driver and hybrid first to be a little suspect; however, they all manned up and executed their shots. The challenge, in my mind, was intended to force your competitor to make a mistake. You really couldn’t go out and “win” this challenge, because your competitor always had the next shot. So, force him to make a mistake, right? With all that said though, if you simply hit good shots, it doesn’t really matter what your strategy is, you’ll probably win anyway.

Before the second challenge, the producers told us that we would be playing a hole measuring around 400 yards with one club. My thinking was that I’ll need a club to chip around the green if it came to that, plus I’m a dynamite putter with my PW. You can ask Rick. I was making everything on the practice green with my PW. If I selected 5 iron and found myself in the greenside bunker, then it was game over. Long story short, I only practiced with PW, hitting bunker shots, flop shots, putts, etc.

When we got to the challenge they let us know that it was closest to the hole in 3 shots, and the ball didn’t have to be on the green! That changed everything. Even if I was in the bunker, who cares, because I’d probably only be about 30’ from the hole in 3. Instantly I changed my strategy to go with 5 iron so I could get to the green in 2 shots where a PW would take 3. All the other players did the same except for Chan.
I played my first two shots really well, into the middle of the green with a 5 iron putt left to try and get it close. Unfortunately, as mentioned already, I didn’t practice any putts with my 5 iron! I really had no reference point for hitting the putt. What I do know is that whenever a putt with a hybrid or even a driver, the ball comes off hotter than you think, probably due to the longer shaft. I figured that would be the case with the 5 iron putt. I also decided that blading the putt would be the best way to go as well. Turns out, I should have trusted my natural feel and just hit the putt rather than overthinking it.

Long story short, the quality of play from the other guys was stellar in this challenge. It was not that easy! None of us were in trouble, and all of us were looking at a good chance of making par and even birdie. In the end, I was neither first nor last so I was then eligible to be picked for the elimination challenge.
That made me nervous, not going to lie. I knew Chan used his gut more than reason. Reason in this case said to pick Stu and Anthony. Both had been struggling a little bit and I really played well up until this point. But with Chan, you never really know. Luckily, he reasoned well.

Stu was my roomie for the first night at the Greenbrier. Partners in crime. He comes from a pretty sketchy background, being addicted to pain killers. The show was a big deal to him. It could have very well been his Big Break even if he didn’t win. He was well liked by the boys on the show; I know all of us hope he’s continuing on the right path.

I’m off to first stage of PGA Tour Q-School next week at San Juan Oaks. First round is on Tuesday, so no viewing party for the second straight week. Maybe I should ask all the other players at my site to come watch? That wouldn’t be awkward, right?

Time to work on my 5 iron putting.


James Lepp