Everything youve ever wanted to know about Big Break or at least everything I feel like writing about


For my last blog on Big Break Sandals Resorts, I’ve decided to depart from the strict narrative form and polish the season off with whatever fun facts come to mind.

-During production, the second half of a series like Big Break is all downhill. At the beginning the days run long: those of us producing the show are up before dawn, the contestants get up around 4:30 a.m. to get camera-ready, and the last interviews finish around 11 p.m. By day eight, we’re in the homestretch and things are moving faster. Only four people take each shot, instead of 11. Everybody knows the drill, so we’re moving like a well-oiled machine. This day we finished at the course in the mid-afternoon, and I even had time for a dip in the resort pool before my interview. The Sandals Emerald Bay pool is the largest freshwater swimming pool in the Caribbean.

-When I bump into fans at a golf course, the first thing they want to know is always, “how much of the competition is real?” The answer is, “it’s all real.” We write the rules for the challenges months before we leave for the shoot. Big Break falls under the auspices of the Federal Game Show Laws (that’s USC TITLE 47 CHAPTER 5 SUBCHAPTER V § 509 if you care to look it up, but consult your own lawyer for interpretation), and all production is viewed and certified by a third party Standards and Practices legal team. We may truncate or omit parts of the competition that don’t affect the results in post-production, but the competition is as real as it gets.

-Speaking of rules, how about Rule 18-2 b. During the Flag challenge, Sara Brown addressed the ball before tapping it in. The ball rocked almost imperceptibly and took a slight turn. Sara immediately called Kent, our USGA Rules official over to assess the penalty. To give you an idea of how slight the movement was, the replay in the show is from our Red camera. It’s rolling at 4000 lines of vertical resolution (1080 lines are displayed on a HD television) so we blew the image up 400%, and you can just barely notice the ball move. Point is, Kudos to Sara for playing the game with integrity without hesitation.

-That was a big putt from Lili on the par 3. When there’s money on the line, Lili always comes through, at least to this point. Here’s a fun off-camera story. On the first day on the island, the contestants all play a practice round. They get to see the course and the other players, and we shoot some footage for promotional purposes. Lili was in a greenside bunker on the third hole. She called out to Ryann, who was on the green, “I bet I can get my shot closer to the hole than you can get your putt,” and promptly holed out. I knew at that moment, she was going to be around at the end of the season, because anyone who actively seeks that kind of pressure and forces themselves to back it up was going to handle the Big Break nerves pretty well. And now she’s in the final three.

-As long as were handing out compliments, I have to give Carling credit for suiting up and taking a swing at that ball in the water. You never know when one of those is going to drop in.

-I must admit that I thought Carling made a huge tactical mistake in show seven when she saved Taryn. It seemed like every time Taryn was in elimination with her back to the wall, she played some tough golf and sent the other player home. When Carling found the hazard in this show’s elimination, I thought it was over. I guess eventually Taryn just got used to living on the edge and let her guard down. She left the show with the same class she displayed throughout the competition.

-Here’s the last rules story: the USGA 2010 grooves decision was a fun one. At the time we started pre-production in November 2009 for a February 2010 shoot, we weren’t sure if we would even have a way to inspect and know for sure which grooves were 2010 compliant, and the Duramed FUTURES Tour wasn’t planning to adopt the new mandate until mid-summer 2010. So we wrote both the old and new clubs into our rule book and let each contestant decide which clubs to play. Just in case you were curious.

-That just about does it for me. Many thanks to the hotel and golf staff at Sandals Emerald Bay for taking care of us during our three week stay, especially Brian the Head Pro for taking care of our on-course needs, and Kerry, the proprietor of the Duck, Emerald Bay’s British pub, a crew favorite for the excellent food and hospitality.