The Most Amazing Place I Never Saw

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 29, 2012, 2:00 am

We here at Big Break headquarters go to great lengths to ensure the secrecy of each series' location until the time comes to announce it publicly.  But privately, family and friends are always concerned to know which general direction you’re headed for the next few weeks.  (They're funny that way.)  My answer is usually a cryptic reference to the geographic area in question—in this case, 'The Bahamas'—and their response is always the same: 'Must be nice!'

This time, 'nice' barely scratched the surface.  So I hear.

The Atlantis, Paradise Island is, as a certain dolphin might tell you in episode 3, 'more amazing than the myth'.  The Big Break invaded the resort for a little under a month, but in truth it would probably take more to fully explore all that Atlantis has to offer.

If Willy Wonka was a beach bum instead of a candy connoisseur, this would be his place.

I was told you can not leave Paradise Island without exploring the Aquaventure water park and its 20 million gallons of thrills and refreshing chills.  Marcela, Kelly and Aubrey were fortunate enough to play their way into Aquaventure, and it certainly appears they made the most of their afternoon!

Atlantis boasts myriad swimming areas, and based on what I've heard they make most resort pools look like chlorinated rain puddles.  Then there's The Dig, a staggering underwater recreation of the lost city of Atlantis which should be on any visitor's to-do list.  (No shovel required.)

In addition to the aquatic adventures found all over Paradise Island, there's a vast network of restaurants, spas, shops, bars and, of course, the casino – home to hundreds of table games, slot machines and, proudly, zero of my dollars.

Alas, swimming, dining and shopping were not the reasons we came to Atlantis.  It was all about the golf.  We covered every inch of the incredible Ocean Club Golf Course in search of this season's worthy Big Break champion, and the action did not disappoint.

Unless your name happens to be Zakiya Randall.

This particular day was long, even by Big Break standards, but arguably no one had a longer day than 'Z'.  She discovered that, while Big Break golf is unlike any you'll ever play, some golf axioms still vividly apply.  Like this one: it's a game of inches.

Zakiya was sitting pretty in the first Immunity Challenge and looking like the third member of the Aquaventure excursion team until Aubrey so deftly knocked her off her perch – by two inches.  Rumor has it that's thinner than the glass at The Dig.

Pity, really.  That spandex would have transitioned nicely to the water park.

Even in the midst of Big Break's 17th season there's a palpable sense of surprise and intrigue on set when such a game-changing moment occurs.  The ensuing chain of events ultimately landed Zakiya in the Elimination Challenge.  The rest is Big Break history, and a perfect example of what's at stake on each swing.

Try playing Jenga at gunpoint, or doing surgery on your favorite pet during an earthquake.  That only begins to depict the pressure that the ladies of the Big Break are feeling over every shot.  And even when you rise to the occasion, somebody else might be two inches better.

Being a part of the planning, development and production of such a series is almost as exhilarating as the sheer drop down the 'Leap of Faith', the watery plunge from Atlantis' Mayan Temple.  Or so I'd imagine.

With so much excitement on the course and a dedicated, professional crew putting it all together the long days somehow tend to fly by.  Then it's back on a plane headed home a mere 43 shades lighter than the tanning mom.

Upon my return, when family and friends give me the standard 'must be nice' reaction, I return serve with my old stand-by response: The hours are brutal, but the office is amazing.

And I definitely plan to go back to Atlantis, to finally see what I was missing the whole time I was there.
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Vegas helicopters in to Carnoustie, without clubs

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 9:33 am

Jhonattan Vegas did some range work, putted a little and strolled to the first tee for his 5:31 a.m. ET start in the 147th Open Championship.

Everything before that, however, was far from routine.

Vegas' visa to travel to Scotland expired and the process to renew it got delayed - and it looked like his overseas' flight might suffer the same fate. Vegas, upon getting his visa updated, traveled from Houston, Texas to Toronto, Canada to Glasgow, Scotland, and then took a helicopter to Carnoustie.

He arrived in time on Thursday morning, but his clubs did not. Mizuno put together some irons for him and TaylorMade got him his preferred metal woods. He hit the clubs for the first time on the range, less than 90 minutes before his start.

"I'm going to go out there and play with freedom," Vegas told Golf Channel's Todd Lewis.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.