One of the things I love most about being a Producer for the Big Break series is being a part of conceptualizing and constructing the challenges. This show was particularly fun. I think our contestants, and more importantly our viewers have come to expect two things every season. Number 1 obviously is the Glass Break challenge. Number 2 is the flop wall. This is evident since the players knew right away what the first challenge of the day would be simply by the clue given to them at breakfast.
The great thing about the flop wall is it usually doesn’t really present that difficult of a shot on paper. Most 10 handicaps and below can usually get the ball 8 ft in the air with a lob wedge fairly easily. But what the flop wall does is pretty much mess with your mind. Add to that the pressures that come naturally with Big Break and it’s a recipe for disaster. Case in point, Stefanie. I had the privilege of spending a day with her and her family in southern Florida for her home visit shoot. I was astonished when we got to her home course and they had a 10 foot tall hedge between the driving range and short game area. It was then she revealed to me that she had been practicing hitting shots over this very hedge in preparation for the flop wall challenge. Fast forward to the flop wall challenge and Stefanie is faced with a shot over an 8ft wall that she has admittedly practiced countless time. My interest was sufficiently peaked.
“So what happened?” I naturally asked after it took her more attempts than she was comfortable with to successfully tackle the wall.
“I really don’t know.” she replied. “I was honestly ok with the wall in front of me. I just couldn’t practice how nervous I would be.”
And therein lies 80% of the tragedies on the show. Most of the obstacles and other challenges we have these players attempt, while visually interesting and lots of fun to do mostly boil down to how well they can be performed while battling the all encompassing nerves of typically only having one chance to pull it off. Add to that the pressures of wanting to perform for your team, and that is a tall order. The simplistic beauty of the show is practicing 24 hours per day cannot prepare you for the internal obstacles you will face when your brain knows just how important this one shot is. But ask anyone who has been on the show and they will tell you, it’s a kind of pressure that they love and is very addictive. Funny how that works.