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Golf as a Four Letter Word

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Golf has the uncanny ability to crush one’s soul.  I mean, just pull it out, spit on it, and stomp it into the dirt kind of devastation.  Anyone who’s ever played this game, especially on any sort of competitive level, has felt this.  For me, it was 4 putting the final hole of a match in High School while my teammates watched helplessly.  All competitive sports has that “thrill of victory/agony of defeat” kind of dichotomy, but for one reason or another, the negative side of this coin seems to be that much worse in the game of golf.  Maybe it’s because it’s all up to you.  When things go wrong, it’s all on you.  A shot isn’t missed because someone else came up and blocked it.  A putt isn’t missed because someone else made an incredible kick save.  Sure, some players blame the wind, a bad yardage, or even the equipment itself.  But really, whatever defense mechanism you use to cover up doesn’t hide the fact that you failed because you didn’t hit the shot needed to win.  Of course, there are moments in this game where your opponent just flat out beats you.  It happens, and it still sucks…but I’m not talking about those times.  I’m talking about those times where everything’s there for the taking…and you screwed it up.

Welcome back, friends, to my (Big Break Lead Producer, Brendan Havens) incoherent thoughts and ramblings as it pertains to this week’s heart wrenching/cringe inducing episode of Big Break Mexico.

In a week where we saw Team Olmec regain their mojo, Team Maya reach their boiling point with Chad and Rob call it quits on his team; there’s one moment that stood out above them all.  Matt’s soul crushing defeat at the hands of Jay, and mainly, himself.

To begin, Matt was in the unenviable position of having to avoid obtaining a third strike for his team.  That’s enough pressure to begin with.  Next, he had to choose between 1 of 2 very solid competitors to play against.  Liebelei or Jay.  Personally, I think Liebelei would have been the better choice, but as it played out, Matt really did make the right choice.  He had EVERY opportunity in the world to beat Jay in that 2 hole match.  He just couldn’t hit the shot necessary to seal the deal…and that’s what makes his breakdown that much worse.  He did it to himself.  But, in thinking about this further, there’s more to the demoralizing nature of this defeat than just the fact that Matt, essentially, did it to himself.  His personal failures directly affected three other people.  His teammates.

The fact that he is now to blame for a third member of Team Aztec facing the chopping block in next week’s episode, has to make his collapse hurt that much worse.  I know when I was in the middle of folding like a cheap suitcase on that green in that match in High School, I was just as devastated about letting my teammates down as I was about failing myself at something that I was in complete control of.   Letting people down just plain sucks and letting yourself down sucks even more.

This was a major turning point in the series and as a Producer, watching it unfold on the sidelines was wild.  For months, we had known that episode 4 would be the last day for the strikes.  Now that the day had arrived and the events that were to transpire were unfolding right in front of us; the simple scenario of either Matt or Jay losing the match held SO much weight toward the storylines for Elimination Day.  One poorly judged shot from 44 yards completely changed the outlook of the competition.  With that one moment in time, we went from all three teams having at least one person eliminated, to Team Maya staying fully intact thru the 1st Elimination Day and Team Aztec facing near complete elimination.  Heady stuff and a heady proposition that Matt, and team Aztec, will have to face in next week’s episode.

As part of our daily (and nightly) production duties, we’re all assigned specific contestants to interview at the end of each day.  Matt was one of the contestants that I interviewed every day that he was in the competition.  In my many years of Big Break interviews, I’d be hard pressed to name another person, outside of someone who was just eliminated, who felt more defeated.  Embarrassed and searching for answers, Matt sat in that interview room at a crossroads in his place in the competition.  He couldn’t do anything to change the outcome of what had happened hours earlier.  All he could do was to try and move on and find a way to turn today’s failure, into tomorrow’s success.  And that is where the true spirit of a professional golfer exists.  Will a soul crushing defeat define the failure of your past, or will it define the success of your future?
 

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