Graduation Day

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As I, and other Producers of Big Break, have attested to at different points in time over the course of our ramblings and incoherent thoughts via these Producer Blogs for the last seven seasons, a Big Break shoot can feel a bit like a twisted version of summer camp.  You’re away from home for weeks on end with only those on the production crew filling in as your day-to-day friends and/or enemies; there’s laughs, there’s bickering and there’s the occasional sing-along around the fire pit.  Yes, we do have some pretty damn good musicians on the crew (present company included).  We also manage to take some time out of our exorbitantly busy schedules to blow off some steam and experience the local flavor of our present location.  I mean, we HAVE to.  After all…all work and no play makes Jack…something, something…

The crew’s favorite hangout by an overwhelming margin was Agave Sunset (the Hyatt Grand Champions hotel bar) and with only one day remaining in the competition, a good portion of us had to tip a pint or two to bid adieu to our watering hole of choice for the preceding three weeks.  

So, as the final notes of The Art of Sax reverberate throughout Agave Sunset, and the crowd of billionaires, cougars and sabertooth tigers lavish their praise upon them, myself and a few of the remaining crew members take in this absolutely one-of-a-kind scene one last time before signing off.  Amidst the cacophony of cheers, drunken peripheral conversations and a wailing saxophone solo, I glance down at my watch.  It’s 1am.  In just 6 ½ short hours, David and Kent will tee it up to decide who will be crowned Champion of Big Break Indian Wells.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why in the h*** are these guys still at the bar at 1am the night before the finale?”  Well, to be completely honest, the select few of us still enjoying the proceedings probably should have been in bed resting up for the final day; but we had been going 100mph straight ahead for the majority of the past month, working 12-16 hour days whilst surviving mainly on Red Bull, coffee and limited sleep.  So with the shoot’s impending swan song approaching, why mess with success, right?  Also, the bar scene on a Saturday night at the Hyatt is THAT entertaining.  I urge you to check it out upon your next golf excursion to Indian Wells.  Heck, just go if you’re in the vicinity of Palm Springs, period.  I guarantee some truly entertaining bar scenes.  Man, I miss that place…but I digress…

“Finale Day” of a Big Break shoot feels a lot like graduation day.  You’re so happy and relieved that it’s all finally come to an end, but there’s definitely a bittersweet quality to the conclusion of the competition.  Cast and crew alike have been connected at the hip for the better part of three weeks and no matter how much you cannot wait to get a full eight hours of sleep in your own bed, Indian Wells was our home for the better part of a month.  And for those who’ve been to summer camp, you all know that feeling.  That last day is always a tough one.  

But, let’s put all that aside for the time being and reserve a moment for our newest champion.  David Byrne.  For one, I cannot say enough good things about this character of this kid (and yes he IS a kid…23-friggin’-years old).  For him to come into this competition with ZERO events as a professional under his belt and day after day fight his way into the next episode - - I consider this to be one of the most impressively tenacious runs to a championship that I’ve ever experienced in my Big Break career.  David plays golf the way he’s lived his young life; grinding for every little bit that he can get in order to survive through to the next day while always keeping his eye on the intended destination.  David needed this Big Break (literally and figuratively) more than many ever had before him.  Being part of a cast comprised of so many great stories (see my Series Preview blog entry), David’s was quite possibly one of the best, if not the most personal and inspirational.  So, if you think about it in that light, David was the best candidate to come out of this series with all the cash.  All the hard work he and his mom put forth just to get him in position to take advantage of a break when it finally came along, proved to be worth all the blood, sweat and tears.  First professional event, first win.  Congratulations David.  Today was YOUR graduation day.

Oh, and David…since you didn’t get a chance to frequent Agave Sunset while competing in the series, make sure you check it out when you take your trip back.  And make sure you go on a Saturday night.  Man, I miss that place…