Golf Channel Reveals All-Female Cast For Big Break Florida

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 28, 2014, 5:30 pm

 Golf Channel’s popular Big Break reality competition series returns Monday, Feb. 24 featuring an all-female cast hoping to take the next step in their professional golf careers by competing for more than $175,000 in cash and prizes – the largest collection of prizes in series history – and an opportunity to play on the LPGA Tour.

Big Break Florida, produced in partnership with VISIT FLORIDA and produced on location at Omni Amelia Island Plantation, features a cast of 12 women who are at different stages in their professional golf careers.  Several are currently competing on the Symetra Tour (official qualifying tour for the LPGA), while others are attempting to revive their professional golf careers.  Two competitors turned professional solely to qualify for Big Break Florida, including the youngest contestant (18) in the series’ 21 season-history.  All 12 will compete against each other in hopes of making their lifelong dream of walking the fairways on the LPGA Tour a reality. 

The contestants are:

Lindsay Aho (26, Scottsdale, Ariz. / Brush Prairie, Wash.) – Entering her second year on the Cactus Tour, Aho turned professional in 2013 after an outstanding career at Concordia, where she was a two-time All-American with 13 collegiate victories.  She won her first professional event in 2013, the Pepsi Northwest Women’s Open.

Courtney Coleman (28, Rochester, Wash.) – An underdog when it comes to professional golf experience, Coleman turned pro in 2012 and recently has returned to competitive golf after overcoming a thyroid condition.  She will play the mini-tour circuit in 2014.

Kylee Duede (22, Glendale, Ariz.) – Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis as a baby, Duede is on a diminishing timetable for her golf career, knowing she will need to get a full knee replacement in the next few years.  Duede competed on the Cactus Tour as an amateur in 2013 and turned professional to compete on Big Break Florida.

Fiamma Felitch (24, Oklahoma City, Okla.) –A decorated junior golfer from Oklahoma – the 2007 high school state champion and player of the year – Felitch will compete on the Cactus and Symetra Tours in 2014 with a renewed sense of energy and passion to achieve her dream of competing on the LPGA Tour.

Tonya McCall (28, Las Vegas, Nev.) – A proud mother of two, McCall is giving professional golf another go.  A graduate of UNLV who had status on the Ladies European Tour in 2010 prior to putting her golf aspirations on hold, McCall will compete on the Cactus and Symetra Tours in 2014.

Mary Narzisi (24, Omaha, Neb.) – One of the more outspoken competitors on Big Break Florida, Narzisi has been competing full-time on the Symetra Tour the past two years after initially burning out on competitive golf after graduating from the University of Minnesota.  She will compete on the Symetra Tour in 2014.

Kristi O’Brien (23, Fishers, Ind.) – O’Brien’s life changed forever when she was involved in a severe car accident in 2009.  Miraculously, she walked away from the accident, and saw it as a sign that her golf clubs in the trunk also were unscratched.  Given a second chance in life, golf helped O’Brien recover from the emotional and physical injuries. She went on to become the 2011 Indiana Player of the Year and turned professional upon college graduation.  She is competing on the Symetra and Cactus Tours in 2014.

Dallas Odom (19, Anderson, S.C.) – The youngest competitor in Big Break history at age 18 when the series was filmed in 2013, Odom turned professional to compete on Big Break Florida.  She has a homemade golf swing and is from a small town in South Carolina, both traits that are similar to past Big Break champion Tommy Gainey.  She is a multiple winner in South Carolina Junior Golf Association championships, and is the nine-time defending champion at the Anderson County Championship.

Sadena Parks (23, Scottsdale, Ariz. / Spanaway, Wash.) – The first African-American golfer to compete at the University of Washington, Parks turned professional in 2013 and is competing in her second season on the Symetra Tour.  She is one of the longest hitters on the series.

Renee Skidmore (27, Jupiter, Fla. / Everett, Wash.) – One of the veteran golfers on Big Break Florida, Skidmore turned professional in 2009 and has competed on the Suncoast, Cactus and Symetra Tours the past four years.  She will be competing full-time on the Symetra Tour in 2014.

Jackie Stoelting (27, Vero Beach, Fla.) – Stoelting made the cut in the final stage of LPGA Q-School this past December, earning conditional status on the LPGA Tour for 2014 as a rookie.  That makes her the first Big Break contestant in series history to earn status on any major professional golf tour in between competing on the series and prior to that series airing.  Stoelting also is the lone contestant on the series to have competed in a major championship – she qualified and made the cut in the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open.

Lauren Sullivan (25, Fort Worth, Texas) – Sullivan’s journey is unique among the cast of Big Break Florida.  After a successful junior golf career in Texas, she did not play golf in college. Following graduation in 2011 from TCU, her passion for the game returned and she is putting her medical career on hold to pursue her dream of playing on the LPGA Tour.

Serving as co-hosts for Big Break Florida will be Tom Abbott and Melanie Collins.  Collins will make her Golf Channel debut as co-host for Big Break.  She currently serves as a television host for Yahoo! Sports.

The contestants on Big Break Florida have the opportunity to win more than $175,000 in cash and prizes during the course of the series, the largest collection of prizes in series history.  The winner of Big Break Florida will receive more than $100,000 in cash and prizes, including:

  • An exemption to the 2014 Manulife Financial LPGA Classic (June 5-8, 2014).
  • $65,000 in cash, including $5,000 courtesy of Dick’s Sporting Goods and $10,000 courtesy of Macanudo.
  • Full, exempt status to the 2015 Symetra Tour season with all entry fees paid.
  • An endorsement contract from Adams Golf, including $10,000 in cash.
  • $10,000 in car rental credit courtesy of Avis Car Rental.
  • $10,000 in travel credit courtesy of Travelocity.
  • A four-day, three-night stay at any Omni golf resort in the United States.

Filmed on location in October, 2013, the series will unfold at Omni Amelia Island Plantation’s three award-winning golf courses – Oak Marsh, Ocean Links and Long Point Golf Courses.  Oak Marsh Golf Course, a classic Pete Dye design, is ranked as one of the top 75 resort courses in the U.S. by Golf Digest and as one of “Florida’s 50 Finest Courses” by Travel & Leisure.  Ocean Links Golf Course, a Bobby Weed design, features five oceanfront holes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and winds through six miles of natural sand dunes and seaside terrain that is unique to Amelia Island.  Long Point Golf Course is a Tom Fazio design that features rolling fairways winding through three distinctive settings: marshlands, thick oak and pine forest, and scenic oceanfront dunes. 

Golf Channel’s Big Break show concept pits highly skilled golfers against each other in a variety of challenges that test their physical skills and mental toughness.  On Big Break Florida, the competitors will be subject to skills challenges from tee-to-green, including two of the series’ signature challenges, the popular “Glass Break” and “Flop Wall” challenges.  One contestant will be eliminated each week, with the last player standing awarded her Big Break, an opportunity to compete on the LPGA Tour.

Past Big Break champions have won tournament exemptions to compete on some of the world’s top professional circuits, including the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour, European Tour, LPGA Tour, Web.com Tour and Canadian Tour. 

Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, Big Break VII: Reunion champion and PGA TOUR professional, captured his first PGA TOUR victory in 2012 at The McGladrey Classic and is playing full-time on the PGA TOUR.  2013 Solheim Cup team member Gerina Piller (Big Break Prince Edward Island competitor), 2011 Solheim Cup team member Ryann O’Toole (Big Break Sandals Resorts competitor) and 2009 U.S. Solheim Cup Team member Kristy McPherson (Big Break VI: Trump National competitor) are currently playing full-time on the LPGA Tour.  Several other past Big Break competitors are currently competing on the PGA TOUR or LPGA Tour, including Matt Every, Kim Welch and Nicole Smith.

Become a fan of Big Break on Facebook at: facebook.com/GolfChannel.BigBreak

Follow Big Break on Twitter @BigBreak

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Club apologizes for calling cops on black women members

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 11:07 pm

YORK, Pa. - A golf club in Pennsylvania has apologized for calling police on a group of black women after the co-owner and his father said they were playing too slowly and refused requests to leave the course.

“I felt we were discriminated against,” one of the women, Myneca Ojo, told the York Daily Record. “It was a horrific experience.”

Sandra Thompson and four friends met up Saturday to play a round of golf at the Grandview Golf Club, where they are all members, she told the newspaper.

At the second hole, a white man whose son co-owns the club came up to them twice to complain that they weren’t keeping up with the pace of play. Thompson, an attorney and the head of the York chapter of the NAACP, told the newspaper it was untrue.

On the same hole, another member of the group, Sandra Harrison, said she spoke with a Grandview golf pro, who said they were fine since they were keeping pace with the group ahead of them.

Despite that, the women skipped the third hole to avoid any other issues, she said.

It’s part of golf etiquette that slow-moving players let groups behind them play through if they are holding things up, and often golf courses have personnel who monitor the pace of play, letting golfers know when they are taking too long.

The five are part of a larger group of local women known as Sisters in the Fairway. The group has been around for at least a decade, and all of its members are experienced players who have golfed all over the county and world, Thompson said. They’re very familiar with golf etiquette, she said.

After the ninth hole, where it is customary to take a break before continuing on the next nine holes, three of the group decided to leave because they were so shaken up by the earlier treatment, the women told the paper.

Thompson said the man from the second hole, identified as former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, his son, club co-owner Jordan Chronister and several other white, male employees approached the remaining two women and said they took too long of a break and they needed to leave the course.

The women argued they took an appropriate break, and that the men behind them were still on their beer break and not ready to tee off, as seen in a video Thompson gave the newspaper. The women were told that the police had been called, and so they waited.

Northern York County Regional Police arrived, conducted interviews and left without charging anyone.

“We were called there for an issue, the issue did not warrant any charges,” Northern York County Regional Police Chief Mark Bentzel said. “All parties left and we left as well.”

A phone listing for Steve Chronister rang busy on Monday. He told the York Daily Record he didn’t have time to comment on Sunday.

Jordan Chronister’s wife and co-owner of the club, JJ Chronister, said Sunday she called the women personally to apologize.

“We sincerely apologize to the women for making them feel uncomfortable here at Grandview, that is not our intention in any way,” she told the newspaper. “We want all of our members to feel valued and that they can come out here and have a great time, play golf and enjoy the experience.”

She said she hopes to meet with them to discuss how the club can use what happened as a learning experience and do better in the future.

Thompson said she’s not sure a meeting is what needs to happen.

“There needs to be something more substantial to understand they don’t treat people in this manner,” she said.

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Randall's Rant: Augusta has the power to strengthen LPGA

By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 9:57 pm

Augusta National Golf Club is turning women’s golf upside down.

If you care about the LPGA, that should be your hope, anyway.

Your hope should be that the investment made in the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship announced at the Masters three weeks ago will eventually filter up the women’s ranks.

While the new amateur event comes with significant challenges for the women’s tour - with its first major (the ANA Inspiration) in a tough spot the same week as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur - there is LPGA seed money being planted in Georgia

There’s an investment that may grow the women’s game beyond fueling new interest among girls.

“I just hope corporations start recognizing the value of investing in the women’s game, the way Augusta National does,” two-time major champion Cristie Kerr said. “There are so many corporate sponsors in the men’s game who don’t invest a single dollar in the women’s game. Obviously, that’s their prerogative, but we have a lot of value as a tour.”

And there’s your hope.

Augusta National is a collection of power brokers, CEOs and leaders now invested in growing the women’s game.

They’re taking a special interest in watching these young female amateurs emerge, and it’s only natural to expect they’ll become emotionally invested in where these young players go.

And a lot of these young players will go on to the LPGA.

The LPGA is thriving under commissioner Mike Whan’s leadership, with Whan seeing opportunities where others didn’t. He saw Asian interest in the tour as an asset, not the liability so many thought a decade ago.

The LPGA had withered to 23 events in 2011 with $40 million in total prize money. This year, it's up to 34 events with a tour-record $68 million in prize money. Whan did that with a lot of Asian backing.

Of the 10 tour events the LPGA has staged so far this year, including this week’s tournament in San Francisco, nine have Asian-based title sponsors. Even the LPGA’s domestic events are thriving on Asian money. 



All six of the U.S. events staged so far this year have Asian-based title sponsors. You have to move into May and next week’s Volunteers of America Texas Classic before finding an American corporate title sponsor of an American LPGA event.

That starts changing with summer approaching, but overall there will be 17 Asian-based companies or organizations as title sponsors of LPGA events this year, with 14 American-based entities sponsoring or owning events.

Whan says that’s a good thing.

“The diversity of sponsorship on the LPGA makes us a stronger business,” Whan said. “Since I’ve been in office, we’ve worked through recessions in different parts of the world. None of those recessions were crippling to our overall schedule, because we have so many sponsors on board, from so many different places.”

Whan says American corporate interest is growing considerably, with more American marketing partners joining the LPGA this year. The next steps players would like to see are increased purses and endorsement opportunities for women.

The winning two-man team at the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic this week will take home a combined $2,073,000. This week’s LPGA Mediheal Championship features a $1.5 million purse for the entire field.

“The income gap in golf is as much a concern to me as the corporate income gap is to working women,” 12-time LPGA winner Stacy Lewis wrote in an essay earlier this year for the World Economic Forum.

U.S. Solheim Cup captain and LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster started wearing a San Francisco Giants cap this year with no endorsement deals on her bag or shirt. She has become more outspoken about the lack of corporate support for all female golf pros.

“I'm going to say it right now, and I probably shouldn't say it, but I just don't understand how all these companies get away with supporting PGA Tour events and not supporting the LPGA,” Inkster said at the last Solheim Cup. “It makes me a little upset, because I think we've got a great product. We deserve our due.”

With Augusta National investing in young amateur women, it may only be a matter of time until corporate America significantly steps up support. The game’s greatest power brokers appear ready to grow with the young women they will begin investing in next year. That should be the hope for anyone who cares about the LPGA.

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Report: Tour close to finalizing Detroit tournament

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 7:07 pm

With the final pieces of the 2019 schedule falling into place, the PGA Tour appears on the verge of returning to Michigan for the first time in nearly a decade.

According to a Detroit News report, the Tour is "believed to be close" to an agreement to bring a tournament to the Motor City beginning in 2019, reportedly likely to take place at Detroit Golf Club near downtown.

While the specifics remain undisclosed, the prime candidate for such a move appears to be The National. The Washington, D.C.-area event, which benefits Tiger Woods' TGR Foundation, was sponsored by Detroit-based Quicken Loans from 2014-2017. This year the tournament will be conducted at TPC Potomac without a title sponsor.

According to a Detroit News report in September, Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert was open to continuing his company's sponsorship of the event if it shifted to Detroit.

In addition to The National, the only other current PGA Tour event without a title sponsor is the Houston Open. On Monday Charles Schwab was introduced as the new title sponsor of the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019.

The PGA Tour has not held an event in the state of Michigan since 2009, the final year of the now-defunct Buick Open at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club. While the final details of a revamped schedule have yet to be announced, the Tour is expected to unveil its itinerary for the 2018-19 season at The Players next month.

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Inbee Park quietly reclaims world No. 1

By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

Inbee Park moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in about as ho-hum fashion as you’ll ever see a player take the top spot.

It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the top ranking. It just wasn’t a priority in her return to golf this year, after missing big portions of the last two years with injuries.

With an Olympic gold medal and seven major championship titles, the LPGA Hall of Famer isn’t done trying to top the scoreboards that matter most to her.

“To be honest, I never really think about being No. 1 again,” Park said early last week, before tying for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open. “If it comes to me, great. If not, it doesn't matter.”

It came to her for the fourth time in her career.

Park, 29, reigned at No. 1 for 59 weeks in her longest run on top, back in the 2013 and ’14 seasons.

Oddly, this run to No. 1 almost comes as a surprise to Park, who didn’t need long to get back to the top spot after returning to the tour. She won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last month in her second after missing seven months with a back injury.

Park last lost the No. 1 ranking in October of 2015, doing so to Lydia Ko.

In six starts this year, Park has finished T-3 or better four times. She leads the tour in scoring average (69.13) and is second in greens in regulation (77.5 percent).

Just wait until her putter heats up.

Yeah, Park’s not very satisfied with her putting. She’s one of the greatest putters who ever played the women’s game, but she has been frustrated with the inconsistency of her stroke much of this season. Of course, her standards are high. She ranks second in putts per greens in regulation so far this year.

On Sunday, this is how Park summed up her putting in 2018: “Some days, I’ve been really good. Some days, I’ve been really bad.”

Park has led the LPGA in putts per GIR in five of the last 10 years. She switched from her preferred mallet-style putter to a blade earlier this season and won with a Toulon Madison blade at the Founders Cup last month. She was back with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet this past week. That’s the putter she used to win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. She used an Odyssey Sabertooth winged mallet in her 2013 run of three consecutive major championship victories.