Upon first glance, Julien Trudeau and Mallory Blackwelder are one of “those” couples.
Yep, they met on a reality television show.
This wasn’t one of those reality shows devoted to people finding their one true love, though. One of those which creates romance in hour-long increments with the tedious scenes left on the cutting room floor to help ratings.
They met on “Big Break Ireland,” the 2011 edition of the long-running Golf Channel series which affords aspiring professional golfers the opportunity to compete in a big-time environment.
If Tommy Gainey, the first “Big Break” alum to win a PGA Tour event, remains the show’s ultimate success story, then Trudeau and Blackwelder are its greatest feel-good tale.
A couple of weeks after the show finished filming, Trudeau, who finished runner-up on the finale, offered to caddie for Blackwelder at a few events. The player-caddie relationship blossomed into something more that summer. Two years later, with Trudeau firmly entrenched as the caddie for Graham DeLaet on the PGA Tour and Blackwelder pursuing her LPGA dreams on developmental tours, they remain together.
And just last week, they got engaged to be married.
Yep, just another reality show couple … OK, maybe not.
“I don’t say it’s a reality show,” she says with a laugh. “I say it’s a golf competition show, just so they don’t get the wrong idea.”
He agrees, explaining, “This wasn’t ‘The Bachelor.’ I was going there to win 50 grand. I needed to win to keep my career going.”
It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, either.
“We’re going to Ireland,” Blackwelder recalls. “He comes into the airport and he looks completely hungover. He had the hood of his hoodie up over his head. My first thought was this guy’s a weirdo.”
“We weren’t there to try to find a significant other. I was there to play golf. It wasn’t like I looked at him and thought, he’s the one.”
In fact, if fate hadn’t intervened during the show, they might never have found out.
Trudeau and Blackwelder were on different teams, meaning that once on-course filming ended each day, they would retreat to separate houses where they stayed with teammates.
“If one of us had gotten eliminated early, we wouldn’t be together,” he says. “Everything worked out so well. We got to know each other and it just kind of kept building from there.”
They will now build a marriage into their hectic schedules. Last week, on the morning after DeLaet claimed a career-best share of second place at The Barclays, Trudeau proposed in a New York City hotel room over Starbucks coffee.
Just a few hours later, he was dropping her off at the airport, another flight leading to another golf tournament.
“It’s been hard,” Blackwelder says. “He’s in the middle of a 13-week stretch. He caddies for me on his off weeks, then I go to travel with him on my off weeks from playing.”
Indeed, with the PGA Tour on a bye, Trudeau is looping for his fiancée at the Colorado Women’s Open this week – pro bono, of course.
It may sound like a whirlwind life, but it’s one to which Blackwelder has long been accustomed.
Her father, Worth, met her mother, Myra, at LPGA Q-School in the late-1970s when she was attempting to get her card and he was caddying. Myra became the Rookie of the Year in 1980 en route to a lengthy career; Worth caddied for the likes of Patty Sheehan, Juli Inkster and Dottie Pepper, and remains on the bag of Cristie Kerr these days. Even her brother, Myles, got into the family business, currently caddying for Jodi Ewart-Shadoff.
“I’ve seen how my parents made it work. My family has always been crazy and in all different directions, so I’m used to that,” Mallory explains. “The fact that I am following in my parents footsteps is pretty funny. I joke around with them, like, ‘Why did you let me do this?’ But no, it’s good. It’s a unique story. There aren’t too many families as into pro golf as we are.”
In a relationship that was born on a show which helps launch competitive golf careers, it helps that both Trudeau and Blackwelder understand the struggles of having non-traditional jobs.
“It’s hard, but we both get it,” he says. “We both understand how it works. We try to see each other as much as possible. When I get off the course, she’s the first person I talk to. She’s my best friend.”
He then pauses for a few seconds, considers having a wedding around their hectic schedules and readily admits, “Now the biggest challenge is trying to find a date where everyone isn’t working.”
Followed by a honeymoon – or as they may call it, a “Big Break.”