Reality Sets In


The Golf Channel debuted The Big Break Tuesday night, its original series in which 10 scratch golfers from around the country compete in a weekly showdown of golf skills challenges. The last man standing wins the big break of his golfing career- exemptions into four Canadian Tour events airing on The Golf Channel in 2004.
Flying in from all over the country, the competitors gathered in a conference room in Detroit to meet the competition and get their first glimpse of the strange golfing trip that lay ahead.
A four-hour bus ride from Detroit north up to Gaylord, Mich., afforded each contestant a chance to size up the competition and to get to know each other on a more personal level. Favorite golf tales were shared and there were plenty of laughs. But this was of course just the beginning.
The Big BreakThe 10 men finally arrived at what would be their home for the duration of the competition' a five-room log cabin on a secluded dirt road - not exactly what several had in mind.
We were pretty surprised to see it, to be honest with you, said Garrett Garland, the 56-year-old business executive from Northridge, Cal.
Others were not as disappointed.
I was just glad it wasnt a tent, said a relieved Anthony Sorentino.
Following a long day of travel, the group enjoyed a barbeque and a few beers before calling it a night. Dawn would signal the beginning of the skills challenges that would ultimately whittle the group down to one.
I think I got up earlier than usual. I normally dont get out of bed, said an excited Jeff Brown, 40, an operations manager with the Federal Aviation Administration. My wife, she has to kick, prod, do anything she can to get me out of bed. But this morning, man, I was up ready to go.
Arriving early at the TreeTops Resort, the competitors received their best news of the day from co-host Katherine Roberts - the first show was going to allow them to get their feet wet and no one would face elimination.
That, of course, was met with unanimous approval from the gang of would-be tour professionals.
The first challenge required each man to hit a knock-down shot - the goal being to shatter a small, square plane of glass, sitting on a pole about four feet high and 40 yards away.
Quickly the shots began to fly, each contestant taking dead aim at their target. And within seconds, the sound of breaking glass echoed through the practice range. With an errant swing, Mark Farnham had inadvertently broken Jeff Browns glass.
Thank you Mark, my friend, responded an obviously delighted Brown, who despite not breaking his own glass, was declared the winner of the challenge.
The Big BreakThe only player unable to break his glass was Steve Duemig. The 49-year-old radio host from Tampa, Fla., got the last laugh when he walked up to his target and threw a ball through the glass, the sound of which must have relieved a good bit of stress.
No one wants to finish last, but I did, said a not-too upset Duemig. I can hit that shot all day long, its just I didnt hit the glass, thats all. But, you know, its kind of embarrassing.
The final challenge of the day facing the competitors was a 400-yard tee shot down a narrow, deserted, paved road to a large red wall at the end. The first man to hit the target got the keys to a brand new Club Car golf cart.
As a group they did not perform well. Most of the competitors shots drifted left and into the trees that lined the road. Randy Blocks tee ball was the only one that even sniffed the target.
I thought for sure someone would get it, mentioned Sorentino about the Club Car that was up for stake. I was just hoping it would be me.
With their skills challenges over and the players more aware of what to expect, the group returned to the cabin knowing the next day things were going to get serious.
Someone was going to go home.
The laughing and the joking, to me, it comes to an end, said the outgoing Charles Calhoun. Today was fun, entertaining, but its time for it to come to an end, because this is serious business. And this is serious to me.
Be sure to tune in to The Golf Channel next Tuesday at 9:00PM (ET) as the first competitor will fail to capitalize on what could have been his Big Break.
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