So what's "What's the Kikkor?"? WTK is the blogging space for Kikkor's founder, James Lepp, past Big Break Greenbrier runner-up, and currently on Big Break NFL. There's no real plan for topics to be discussed on WTK - it could involve anything from March Madness to the Masters, or global politics to the Big Break. Hopefully there will be something for everybody, and as always, the comment board is open!
Lucky Shot? (See it here)
Let’s be frank – had my flop shot not dunked in the hole it would have probably ended up in the 1 point zone. I remember telling Emily after she hit her shot that hers was executed much better. It’s true. Hers flopped over precisely, rolling gently into the 3 point zone. Contrary, mine crashed 3 feet up the flagstick, then thumped into the hole. My result was better, and you may call it being accurate, but I call it lucky.
I’ve never believed that “you make your own luck”. Luck is luck. It’s chance. We all have stretches where breaks and bounces go our way, like my flop wall shot, and other times where it hits the pin and ricochets into the nearby pond. That’s why tournaments are played over 72 holes, to hopefully allow the element of chance play an insignificant role in the outcome.
Over 72 holes you may have 36 tap-in putts that are insignificant (Joe Daley may argue that. See below.). That means throughout the course of a tournament there are roughly 250 shots where luck could play a factor. You would think that with that many opportunities, luck would definitely even itself out, but some tournaments everything goes your way, and others where nothing goes your way…or so it seems.
Now think about the Big Break. One shot can dictate your fate, not 250. Yes, if you hit a quality shot then it shouldn’t matter too much. But just think about my flop shot. If it doesn’t hit the pin we wouldn’t have had immunity and then who knows what could have happened. That’s an extreme case of luck, but luck is usually a lot more subtle.
Subtle luck is never really talked about, yet it’s the most common, and most significant, form of luck out there. What is it? It’s more statistical chance than anything.
I’ve done the flop wall plenty of times now, not only on Big Break, but on the Kikkor flop wall. I have a pretty good idea of how likely I am to get it inside a 3 point circle, 2 point, and so forth. I haven’t tracked these numbers, but I’d say there’s a 25% chance of me getting it in the 3, 40% chance in the 2, 30% chance in the 1, and 5% for the unavoidable wall strike or missed green. Run me through the flop wall 100 times and these numbers will come close to fruition. Run me through once and it really becomes a crap shoot.
I used to play quite a bit of poker, bluffing rarely, just enough to keep my opponents guessing. Occasionally I’d get called on the river while bluffing, in a situation where I’d only bluff 10% of the time. The caller would show his weak hand, essentially calling my bluff. I would tell him, “Ooooh, lucky call.” To him, it was a great call. Yes it looks great in the moment, but statistically, that was a lucky call. If you keep calling me like that you’re going to lose 90% of the time. With enough time eventually he would give me all his chips.
The same can be said for any challenge on the Big Break. I could be facing off against my 30 handicap buddy on a one shot challenge. Like the poker caller there is a chance that he could get it just right and beat me. I should beat him, yes, but mathematical chance will always have its say, especially when it’s only one shot. Play me long enough on the poker table or on the flop wall and I will beat the loose caller or 30 handicap. Play one hand, or one shot, and eeek, I can’t guarantee anything.
What’s the argument here? Luck, the way we're used to seeing it with bounces, breaks, and hitting flagsticks, isn't the element that will impact results the most. Subtle luck, or statistical chance, plays the strongest role, and is exponentially more significant when it's applied on only one shot, like every shot on the Big Break.
Let’s hope luck, and statistical chance, stays on our side. #TeamRypien
For those not familiar, the title means Big Break, Season 2 (for me), Episode 1. No this is not about Breaking Bad. Or is it?
Big Break NFL is clearly a lot different than Big Break Greenbrier. Teams. Ladies. NFLers. More people, more variables. Even with all of that, it’s equally as fun.
When we eventually found out that it was going to be a team format, and that we were to be joined by NFLers, it was clear that this BB was meant to be as fun as possible. There were some grumblings from some players that a team format is too much of a crap shoot and that one single player could bring you down. But let’s be honest, all of us returning players already had our opportunity, and now we’re getting a second one. I say whatever rules they want to throw at us is fair game. No need to complain, b****! (I hope most of you know this reference)
What I will complain about though is what they left out of the first episode. It was a highlight reel play. Something I spontaneously cooked up on the spot. 99% pure. The good stuff. And it didn’t even make the cut. What happened? Well, on my glass break, my ball must have just caught the bottom of the frame, deflecting it up, breaking the glass, then ricocheting high in the air, back over my head. Being the world class all-around athlete specimen that I am, I naturally made a b-line for it. I turned my hips and bolted. Insane Bolt style. 7 grass burning strides in I made a beautiful, in-stride, one handed catch, while staying in bounds. In the end zone. Touch down. This digital graphic really lets you visualize what happened:
Considering it is the Big Break NFL, I figured my game-winning Breaking Badass Glass Catch would have tied in nicely. Apparently not. Maybe I should have just pulverized the glass frame like a tackling dummy. That could have done it. Regardless, at least I still have the ball which provides little to no proof at all:
Sure, we, Team Rypien, didn’t have the best day finishing in last place for the combine, but we still don’t have a loss. And that’s the name of the game, to avoid losses. I always thought it was “Just win, baby,” but apparently I was wrong. It’s actually “Just don’t lose, baby”. Sounds funny.
What our 6th seed means at this point, well, we have no idea. Probably nothing good, but nothing that guarantees us a loss either. The underdogs. Team Rypien. We don’t mind being the underdogs. I want dogs. I don’t want any cats…meowing…scratching. I want dogs!
Let’s just hope there are some actual football challenges coming up soon. Like the classic break the glass ricochet go and catch it challenge. I’m so ready.
Until next time, stay away from the blue stuff.
Well, it’s been quite the run.
I remember heading to the Greenbrier just hoping not to make a fool out of myself. Remember, I hadn’t really played any competitive golf in the last year heading in. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how I was playing heading in, nor had I ever participated in anything like the Big Break. But with each day of successfully moving on, my mentality quickly evolved. I simply wanted to win!
So here we are, in the finale, with just one more guy to beat. Obviously I can’t give any details to the outcome, but from what the Golf Channel producers told us, it may be the best finale ever.
It’s definitely not easy making it to the final given the dynamic of the Big Break. I was joking with some friends that even my Dad, who is a 12 handicap, has beat me straight up on a 3 hole stretch, maybe even a 5 hole stretch. So even if a player is clearly dominant over another, it doesn’t take much to eliminate the better player. Luckily, through the show I was either not picked to go to an elimination or I played my way through it.
So many players this season were evenly matched that I really could have been eliminated much earlier if the cards fell differently. In the end though, I believe these 5 keys really helped me make it to the final 2:
1. The Saucer Pass
I’m not even sure I need to explain this one.
2. Sticking to Whatever Works
I realize that my ‘ways’ are a little unconventional. I don’t do them because I like to appear crazy. I do them because they work. It’s not a feeling, it’s not a hunch, it’s statistical. I know that I putt better with my eyes closed in certain situations. I know that the saucer pass gives me the best chance to hit a shot close. Sometimes trying something crazy is the toughest thing to do, but if you know it works better, then not doing it is crazier. So if you see me putting with my eyes open, then call me crazy.
All things being equal, the player that prepares better will have an advantage. Why leave this to chance? Get out there and prepare. On the first episode where we broke glass I was the only player knocking down leaves to have some sort of reference point.
4. Zeal to Win
There’s nothing wrong with winning. Isaac said it best in the previous episode, “I’m not going to feel bad for picking you, or for beating you.” It’s a competition. You better want to win.
5. Being ok with Failure
This may seem contrary to point 4, but if you’re not ok with failure then you’ll be putting too much pressure on yourself. After all, “It doesn’t matter.” I honestly try to use this mentality in everything I do, even with this blog post.
It was an incredible ride back in June when BB was filmed, and been an equally incredible ride while airing. Thanks to everybody that has made this extremely special. Only one more episode to go! If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or send me a tweet @jameslepp.
To those that asked, here’s WITB when I was on Big Break:
Driver – Titleist 905R
Fairways – Titleist 906F
Irons – Titleist AP2
Wedges – Cleveland 588 Forged (60, 56, 52, 48)
Putter – Cameron 009
It’s remarkable what our minds are able to assess without us even thinking about it – a quarterback leading a posting receiver; a baseball player homering a deceptive curve ball; a hockey player one-timing a hard pass top cheddar. With enough repetition our minds (and body) instinctively find a way to become proficient at that practiced task.
Our minds are also very cognitive. That same quarterback can watch film to study the opposing defense so that his instinctive reactions are even better suited for the upcoming game. The baseball player could be given a scouting report on the pitcher so that he knows when that curveball could be thrown. The hockey player could know that the goalie is weak on his blocker side so that he should favour his one timer to the near side. With a perfect mix of instinct and cognitive thinking most athletes can yield impressive results.
In my mind (pardon the pun), the key in the aforementioned sports is to “turn off” your cognitive mind as you perform the task. In essence, you need to react instinctively. If a quarterback is thinking about where the rush could be coming from he’s probably not going to make a very accurate throw.
Golf, however, is much different than so many other sports. Nothing is moving. It’s all stationary. There’s nothing to really “react” to other than a stationary ball and hole. Yes we need the cognitive skills to account for conditions, pin locations, trouble, and many other factors – it’s our course management. It’s very important.
Two episodes ago you may have noticed that the cognitive mind can definitely help you assess what’s at hand on the course. If you recall I made the decision to basically “lay up” on my last shot because I figured there was about a 95% chance that Isaac wouldn’t pick me. To “go for it” I would have had to hit it within 4 feet, which was maybe a 10% chance. It was a no-brainer to lay up.
In this last episode in the second challenge I had to determine whether I or Brian would hit the approach shot. In my mind he had a 70% of missing the green (which would give me the win) versus me hitting the green at 70%. It was literally a coin-flip in my mind. I decided to hit the shot because I wanted to beat him and not give him the opportunity to beat me. Unfortunately I didn’t execute the shot. Perhaps my mind was too full of percentages? That could be the case…maybe 47% likely. Regardless, hitting the ball needs to be like the hockey player making the one-timer. There’s no thinking. There’s only doing.
Because of that missed shot I found myself in the elimination challenge and more nervous than ever. Nerves are a great way to add unneeded cognitive thoughts into your head. “What if you chuck this shot? What if you three putt? What if you make 3 doubles?” So what did I do so that I could just react out there rather than over think?
If you tell yourself something enough times, slowly you’ll start to believe it. I told myself repeatedly that “It doesn’t matter”. So many of those bad things could have happened, but if it doesn’t matter then it really doesn’t matter if you do them. Who cares! For me, this really helped be calm my nerves so that I could be more instinctive with my play.
Secondly, I had one simple swing key that I wished I had used for episodes prior, and that was to break glass. Breaking glass engages you with the target like you wouldn’t believe. The drill I did on the range on day one trying to hit leaves of the tree proved pivotal. Not only did it get my mind in the right spot but it also allowed me to swing better! It was a perfect combo.
In my experiences as a golfer if you have one simple swing key that gives you confidence than that’s all you need to think about. Your instinctual mind will handle everything else. And when you’re executing your shot an instinctual mind will always trump a cognitive mind.
Break glass baby.
Let me get it out of the way – mid-range socks are making a comeback. I figured I’d experiment with it a little bit on the latest episode and from my Twitter feed apparently you guys don’t agree. While I’ll never force a trend on anybody, my intuition tells me that mid-rangers are coming back in style. People like to express themselves, that’s a given. Socks are just another avenue to express. Be prepared or you’ll get socked.
I quickly want to get this out of the way too – every shot from the day was shown…and I mean EVERY shot. No edits, no cuts, everything was included. I wish they cut my first two drives. Or should I say, I wish I cut my first two drives.
I have a confession. After missing those first two drives I was more than nervous; I was downright scared! At that point we didn't know what our totals were counting for, but I knew the total of 202 yards was not going to get me anywhere good. Luckily on the last drive I found the clubface with a really good drive (for me) and pounded one out there 299. Pound for pound, that's really good.
When we arrived to the second part of the challenge and learned what the rules were, it became quite apparent that this segment was the most crucial. Everything could change so quickly with an inch being the difference. All of us loved the dynamic of the challenge and watching it on TV was more exhilarating than expected. At one point Mark had a shot that would put him into first or last. If you ain't first you're last.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I or the rest of us hit good shots from the 140 yard location. Even when I watched previous seasons I always thought, “This shot is easy! Anybody can hit it inside 20’ from 140.” For some reason it seems so easy when you’re watching on TV because the benchmarks that are given look very attainable. You see, during the course of a round you never think about how close you NEED to hit it, you just think about hitting it close. If you happen to hit it just outside 20’ from 140 yards, who cares because with a good putt you could still easily make birdie. It doesn't even feel that bad.
On the Big Break however, with the scoring rings and yardage poles, the line between a defined great shot and a bad shot is so exact. 19’ is great; 21’ is bad. But really, is 21’ that bad?
I decided to look up some stats of PGA Tour players from 125-150 and what I found was quite enlightening. Just take a look below. Rory McIlroy, for example, averages almost 20’ on the same shots that we were hitting. Essentially that means he hits roughly half of his shots outside of 20’ from that distance. So when we’re up there and hitting them just outside of 20’, that really isn't that bad. We should be able to hit it inside regularly, yes, but to do it every time simply isn't going to happen.
For the record, my shots so far on the show from 125-150 have been 21, 14, 5, 9, 18, 3, 23, 20, and 23’ (in that order). That average is 15.1’.
When I calculated my numbers I decided, hey, why not take a look at the rest of the players. As a group, from 125-150, so far we have averaged 19.7’ (48 attempts). Individually, here are all the player’s average proximities (# of attempts in parenthesis):
Mike – 12.3 (4)
Chan – 15.0 (4)
Brian – 15.0 (4)
James – 15.1 (9)
Anthony – 18.8 (6)
Mark – 19.3 (3)
Ray – 24.4 (7)
Isaac – 26.6 (5)
Rick – 27.8 (6)
Obviously this isn't a direct comparison to Rory McIlroy or other PGA Tour players because the scenario is much different, but it does demonstrate that competitors on the Big Break aren't as terrible as many people think. If you read any of the commentary on Big Break’s Facebook Page you’ll see that many people think we’re terrible. Simply put – we’re not.
Before today I've never calculated my proximity to the hole from any distance. Researching the PGA Tour numbers made me realize that inside 20’ from 140 isn't that automatic. Had I known that prior I wouldn't have been so aggressive with my selections.
So in summary, my socks and our shots are better than you think ;-)
As always, I gladly welcome your questions and comments below. Thanks for all the support.
With the Holiday Season here I figured you may be interested in some golf related gift ideas. Obviously any Kikkor product would be a great idea…ahem…but there are other brands out there that make some pretty sick products. Here are some suggestions:
First, a Kikkor product that deserves a little more love. It’s where we started at Kikkor, with the Eppik style. The Eppik 3.0 is at least 3 times better than the 1.0. It’s lighter, more comfortable, and generally looks a lot better. I was happily wearing them on the most recent episode of Big Break. The regular price is $99, but they’re on for $69 for the Holiday.
Next we have PURE Grips. The coolest thing about PURE Grips is that they’ve allowed us to customize them with our own Kikkor Golf branding. There’s a massive selection on our site. Just click the image below to check them out.
Have you noticed the gloves that I’ve been wearing at the Greenbrier? Well, they are from a brand called Asher Gloves. They’re money, mon. Stylish, comfortable, durable, and all at a great price.
Some more inside info? On the Big Break they were pretty strict about leaving our clubs down at the course. If you know me at all then you’ll know that I love chipping in my room, hallway, patio, wherever. I was able to smuggle my wedge back to the house each day, and instead of chipping real balls I resorted to these. Put it this way, I wasn’t restricted to chipping and saucing. Full swings…no problem. Full Floppy’s, even better.
You may have noticed my belt as well. That’s a custom made belt from 59belts.com. They’ll pretty much customize anything, so it really would be a unique gift idea.
Lastly, the best training aid on the market, and like the grips, branded with Kikkor. The Swinkey does it all; it’s your warm up swing weight, stretching/fitness pole, alignment aid, ball position indicator, putting plane aid, camera mount, club protector, and so much more.
It’s no secret that in any reality show there must be some editing to the content to make things work, mainly because there is not enough time to show everything. Remember, for every 300 minutes of tape there is 1 minute of the actual show. Obviously they have to make some cuts.
While most of the time I don’t know when these cuts will happen, sometimes I’m ready. For example, in the elimination challenge between Rick and Chan, you may have noticed Isaac and I looking rather tired on the sideline. Why? Well, that playoff between the two was actually 9 holes long! As it was happening the producers even told us that they wouldn’t have time to show all the holes; it would be impossible. So the 9 holes became 3 and that’s that…totally understandable. One of the producers even blogged about that.
However, there was a different cut that definitely threw me off, and that was during my blackjack match with Anthony. In all honesty, how it was edited was perfectly fine and quite hilarious too, but there was a notable moment that they kept out. Did you notice that Anthony and I both had the Ace of Diamonds?
No, we didn't exchange cards; they had a full deck for us to use. You see, in that first match, after Anthony threw a blackjack on me (even though I didn’t know it at the time) I went right out there and threw a blackjack right back on him. We tied. We halved. Just check out this picture here (credit Golf Channel):
After revealing our cards we had a congratulatory chuckle, then went back for a second match. In that second match Anthony went first again and rattled off 4 shots! In my mind I really had no idea what he could have. In addition, his bluffing was a lot more sound too. I figured he could have anything from 18 to bust. Regardless, I was aiming for a blackjack. I went up there and posted my 20, which I thought was going to be good for a halve at worst. As it turns out Anthony hit his way to a 21 and I was done.
This didn't change anything to the outcome. Anthony beat me fair and square. I just wish the only blackjack in golf that I'll ever have would have made the air.
At the end of the day Chan couldn’t last another elimination challenge as my Buddy Rick outlasted him. Yes, Chan did get on the nerves of most of the guys in the first few episodes, but in the last few he was actually coming around. He was actually being Chan. Chan is not a bad guy at all; he just liked to play things up for the cameras a little bit. And let’s be serious, I don’t mind doing that a little too ;-)
I’m not sure what I’m going to do without the quotes of “My mindset was basically to eat a little grass…” Haha. The more I hear the quote the more I laugh. When you think of it you realize that nobody in the world has ever mentioned those words, ever. Only Chan Song. And now he’s gone. I’ll miss those moments.
As usual, some behind the scenes tidbits:
1) I hit the 120 foot putt with my eyes closed.
2) During blackjack, a couple of the guys that were second to act were bluffing, which makes no sense at all because how you act doesn’t change a thing. I have since come up with an amazing idea for future Big Breaks involving blackjack. We’ll see if it makes the cut.
3) Blackjack was a lot of fun for me, not only because the challenge itself was fun, but because I was very confident that if I didn’t win I wouldn’t be picked by Rick for the elimination challenge. We had become really good friends on the show and I knew he would pick either Chan or Anthony ahead of me.
4) During the elimination challenge that went for 9 holes, Isaac and I were getting pretty bored. We tried to make a deal with the producers and camera men that we would just come up with 10 or so reactions that they could use wherever they wanted. Anything from “OHHHH! Did he just do that?” to “Nice putt.” We figured if we could just get those out of the way then we could get out of there and enjoy some dinner. Everybody wins. Unfortunately that never ended up happening. So what you saw on the show was our genuine reactions.
Thanks to all of you that regularly read these posts, and to those who vote for me for fan fave! If you have twitter you can vote here.
Until next week, stay Saucy San Diego.
A lot of you have known about the Saucer Pass for quite some time. You’ve seen the videos, perhaps even tried it yourself, but most of you probably don’t know about its origins.
Back in 2008 I was trying to Monday qualify for a Nationwide Tour event in Livermore, CA. After disappointing rounds, myself and current PGA Tour Player Brendan Steele were goofing off on the practice green as we waited for our buddies to finish. We started practicing bizarre chipping techniques, mainly to see how far we could hit it with no backswing. There was a valid reason for that. During the course of a round you could find yourself pinned up against a tree, boundary fence, or this guy’s foot.
So the first Saucer Pass was much more like a snap shot. It was risky and not ideal for regular chips and pitches.
Somehow our snap shot made its way to the fringe next to the green, where the form started to evolve. There was no need to restrict the backswing anymore so a full sliding motion into the ball was possible. Now I’ve seen many first attempts at the Saucer Pass, most of which have been ugly, but for me the motion was so natural. I’m guessing this has to do with my hockey background, as it really felt like a simple saucer pass on the ice. Regardless of my background, the motion is very simple.
I remember distinctly that Brendan and I came up with a formula for how far the ball would go every time depending on how far back you placed the club. Every inch back that you placed the club the ball would go 3 feet (with roll) on the green. So a 30’ chip? All you had to do was put the club 10” behind the ball and sauce it. While we were half joking the entire time, both of us knew how sneaky solid and reliable the shot was becoming.
I didn’t start using the sauce in tournaments until a couple years later. Even though I always knew how effective it was, to actually pull the trigger in a tournament scenario was not easy. I recall telling my competitors before the round, or before hitting the sauce what was going to happen. The shot itself it easy; but knowing your playing partners are saying “WTF?” as you do it makes it difficult. A pre-sauce disclaimer always helps.
My first competitive Saucer Pass was actually out of necessity, from a hazard on some matted down bulrushes. Just like Brendan and I originally practiced, I had a restricted back swing so I needed the sauce. Because I couldn’t ground my club it was more of a hover sauce, the only one executed to date, but I nestled it up to about 2 inches and tapped in for par.
Fast forward a couple years and I’m 17/19 in up and downs in tournament situations, with one chip in. Considering the setting and nerve raking situations on the Big Break, you can clearly see how useful the shot can be.
The Saucer Pass is no joke. If you struggle with your chipping, primarily on tight fairway or hard pan lies, then give it a shot. It’s the belly putter of chipping...and it’s still legal.
I plan on coming out with some sort of instructional videos explaining the Saucer Pass and its uses, but for now all I have is the original vintage video from at least 3 years ago.
I’m more than happy to answer any questions about the Saucer Pass, so please comment below or send me a tweet.
Until next time, stay saucy San Diego.
First off I want to thank all of you for your support not only during the Big Break episodes, but also this past week during first stage of PGA Tour Q School. I know I have a lot of talent, but having all of you endlessly reaffirming that helps a lot with my confidence.
Unfortunately this past week wasn’t a success story for me at Q School. I battled many issues that always seem to reappear in my game, making me very uncomfortable over almost all of my shots. It’s very taxing when you struggle to get comfortable; I almost felt like I was trying to get lucky when I was over the ball, just hoping that when I came through the ball nothing would go array. I was able to manage with what I had, but a few too many missed putts and wonky drives ended up costing me.
As many of you know, this was the last year in which you could get access straight to the PGA Tour through Q School. And that’s obviously what I was shooting for. What’s interesting is that when I was coming out of college I thought the Q School system was flawed because if a weaker player had a good run for three weeks he could his full Tour Card. Three weeks is not a great measurement of a player’s skill level. Why not measure their skill over a full season and give out more cards through the Web.com Tour? Well, that’s exactly what the PGA Tour is doing starting next year. No PGA Tour cards will be given to Q School participants, only Web.com cards.
Now, ironically, I wish they would stick with the old system! I’m sitting here running a golf shoe company so I don’t exactly have the time to slowly progress my way to the PGA Tour. I need the 3 week tournament to get hot in. The rule change is a major reason why I decided to give it a go this past week. Unfortunately it didn’t pan out. If I hit it like I did in the Episode 4 of Big Break then perhaps this blog entry would have a different tone.
As of now I don’t know what my plan is for next year for golf. I have veteran status on the PGA Tour of Canada so I should be able to play some events out there if I would like. It’s still a ways away so I have time to think it over. Kikkor takes up a lot of my time so that will always be there.
I know you guys love concise points, so here are 10 quick interesting tidbits from Q School and Big Break Episode 4:
1) Stats for this past week at first stage: 82% GIR, 1.88 putts/GIR, 17/18 up and downs. My putting and proximity to the hole really hurt me.
2) I switched to belly putter for the last round. Unfortunately it was my ball striking that didn’t come through.
3) I thought about putting left handed after the second round. My two best putting rounds as a professional are both as a lefty, 21 and 22 putts respectively.
4) I hit 10 or so drives during the week with my eyes closed. On average they were better than my drives with my eyes open.
5) I shot the course record (65) at Sagebrush two weeks before Q school. During that round I hit around 12 full shots with my eyes closed. I’m sensing a pattern.
6) Fan favorite voting for the Big Break has been updated so that the rules actually work. You can vote here. Thank you kindly to those that have voted.
7) The saucer pass that was on the last episode actually wasn’t that good for me. I’d give it a 4/10. Here’s a video montage of me saucing around the warehouse.
8) Michael Tobiason, who was eliminated last episode, got through first stage of Q School highlighted by a 62 in his third round. He played in the US Open last year and just missed the cut. Mark Silvers also made it through first stage.
9) The pin position in the scoring rings was an interesting one. There was a nice ‘left stop’ that you could use to feed the ball into the 2 or 3 point circles, which Mike did nicely. However, if you hit it too far left the ball wouldn’t come down. There was also a severe false front where if you landed even in the 3 zone, the ball could easily zip of the front of the green giving you 0 points. To get 8 points out of a possible 9 felt just nice (skip to 1:06 for reference, just nice).
10) The hat was a Vancouver Canadians hat, our local Single A MLB team (Blue Jays system). Buy it here. They even have my picture up there! Haha.
Thanks again for your support. If you have questions, please comment below or send me a tweet.
I’m sorry for the slight delay in getting this blog post out to you. I’ve been rather busy at the Alberta PGA Merchandise Show...slinging shoes and not signing autographs. Here’s our small little booth below. Thank you Ikea.
Some people have asked me if I’ve become a celebrity now that the show’s aired, and while there has definitely been more attention, nobody is recognizing me at the local Starbucks. Tim Horton’s though...that’s a different story. “Double double for you James?” You bet!
I’ll tell you one thing that is funny. Usually we set up a Big Break watching party in my home city of Abbotsford where friends and family come out and watch. This week, however, I’ve been in Edmonton, so I received numerous texts from friends in Abby fearing that I was eliminated because nothing was planned. Why would I plan a get together to watch me get eliminated, right? So I guess from now on I’ll be planning a party no matter what. I don’t want to give anything away!
Then again, apparently there are people out there that know the final results. And that their little secret is safe with me. The problem is that people are POSITIVE that I won, finished second, third, fourth....and down the line. So to those that were sure I was eliminated this past episode, your 100% positivity has slipped a few points.
Episode 3 presented some interesting challenges. In the first immunity challenge I was pitted against my good buddy, Rick, because nobody drafted us at the breakfast table. Rick shot 63 in our practice round at the Greenbrier, which was about as high as he could have shot – good reason not to pick him. I suppose I wasn’t picked because at that point they knew the power of the saucer pass (I had been saucing around the house in similar fashion to at the warehouse). I’m kidding. In all seriousness, I think I wasn’t picked because I performed well in the glass breaking and draw-fade wall challenge. Here’s rick and I walking up to the challenge.
Rick and I played the first challenge in the way I thought the producers designed it to be played, slowly increasing in distance from the previous guy, hitting the fairway. The other guys sure did things differently though.
I found the strategies of the guys that hit driver and hybrid first to be a little suspect; however, they all manned up and executed their shots. The challenge, in my mind, was intended to force your competitor to make a mistake. You really couldn’t go out and “win” this challenge, because your competitor always had the next shot. So, force him to make a mistake, right? With all that said though, if you simply hit good shots, it doesn’t really matter what your strategy is, you’ll probably win anyway.
Before the second challenge, the producers told us that we would be playing a hole measuring around 400 yards with one club. My thinking was that I’ll need a club to chip around the green if it came to that, plus I’m a dynamite putter with my PW. You can ask Rick. I was making everything on the practice green with my PW. If I selected 5 iron and found myself in the greenside bunker, then it was game over. Long story short, I only practiced with PW, hitting bunker shots, flop shots, putts, etc.
When we got to the challenge they let us know that it was closest to the hole in 3 shots, and the ball didn’t have to be on the green! That changed everything. Even if I was in the bunker, who cares, because I’d probably only be about 30’ from the hole in 3. Instantly I changed my strategy to go with 5 iron so I could get to the green in 2 shots where a PW would take 3. All the other players did the same except for Chan.
I played my first two shots really well, into the middle of the green, leaving a tricky 5 iron putt. Unfortunately, as mentioned already, I didn’t practice any putts with my 5 iron! I really had no reference point for hitting the putt. What I do know is that whenever a putt with a hybrid or even a driver, the ball comes off hotter than you think, probably due to the longer shaft. I figured that would be the case with the 5 iron putt. I also decided that blading the putt would be the best way to go as well. Turns out, I should have trusted my natural feel and just hit the putt rather than overthinking it.
The quality of play from the other guys was stellar in this challenge. It was not that easy! None of us were in trouble, and all of us were looking at a good chance of making par and even birdie. In the end, I was neither first nor last so I was then eligible to be picked for the elimination challenge.
That made me nervous, not going to lie. I knew Chan used his gut more than reason. Reason in this case said to pick Stu and Anthony. Both had been struggling a little bit and I really played well up until this point. But with Chan, you never really know. Luckily, he reasoned well.
Stu was my roomie for the first night at the Greenbrier. Partners in crime. He comes from a pretty sketchy background, being addicted to pain killers. The show was a big deal to him. It could have very well been his Big Break even if he didn’t win. He was well liked by the boys on the show; I know all of us hope he’s continuing on the right path.
I’m off to first stage of PGA Tour Q-School next week at San Juan Oaks. First round is on Tuesday, so no viewing party for the second straight week. Maybe I should ask all the other players at my site to come watch? That wouldn’t be awkward, right?
Time to work on my 5 iron putting.
Got questions? Just ask below.