upgraded babe factor and the tropical setting, it was probably inevitable that
the competitors were compelled to participate in the first-ever Big Break
swimsuit photo shoot, ostensibly for a promotional calendar. Jessica Schwartz,
Big Break V's makeup artist, spent the better part of two days applying
spray-on bronzer to disguise the competitors' telltale golf tans. Says
Schwartz, "The goal is to keep it clean and respectable, and showcase the
athleticism of the competitors."
Kossoff had other
ideas. "Don't worry, we still got a few girls on their knees crawling
around in the sand," he says. "It'll be great for All Access."
Among the most
obnoxious aspects of the reality-TV genre is the naked motivation of the
participants: either to win a lot of money or, for the truly shallow, simply to
be famous for a minute or two. The nice thing about Big Break is that the
competitors' hearts seem to be in the right place. "I'm pretty sure none of
us care about being on TV simply for the sake of being on TV," says
25-year-old Becky Lucidi, the 2002 U.S. Women's Amateur champ who toiled on the
Futures tour last season. "This is an amazing opportunity to advance our
To the victor of
Big Break V goes some significant spoils: an invitation to the LPGA's Safeway
Classic; exemptions into the final 12 tournaments on the Futures tour schedule
following the Big Break V season finale, on May 9; reimbursement by the Golf
Channel for all travel expenses to these Futures events; an equipment contract
with Bridgestone; $10,000 in cash and merchandise from Golfsmith; and a
Chrysler Crossfire convertible. The prizes are certainly nice, but it is the
simple opportunity to play that drew these women to the Big Break.
While a junior at
Idaho, Julie Wells was the Big Sky Conference player of the year, but in three
years since turning pro she has barely been scraping by on various mini-tours.
To pay the bills Wells, 25, works at the Oregon Golf Club in "outside
services," a euphemism for cart girl. Shining clubs for tips had Wells
contemplating the end of her playing career, but Big Break V changed all that.
"Being selected for the show is the first good thing that's happened to me
in a long time, golfwise," she says. "It has me super fired-up to get
after it again."
Lewellen was an
All-America at North Carolina in the early 1990s but put her career on hold to
raise her two children and coach the men's and women's golf teams at The
Citadel. Her motivation for coming on Big Break V? "To show these kids that
I can still play a little," she says.
Maybe the easiest
player to root for among the Big Break V cast is Divina Delasin. If the name
sounds familiar, it's because her older sister, Dorothy, is a four-time winner
on the LPGA tour. It was Divina's sacrifices that helped launch Dorothy's
career. Divina, 24, was an accomplished player as a junior golfer, but when her
family fell on hard times, she dropped out of high school to work multiple
jobs, supporting her sister and parents. Now teaching at the First Tee of San
Francisco, she came to Hawaii determined to seize the opportunity. "It's
finally my turn," Divina says.
A typical day on
the set of Big Break V went something like this: breakfast, skills challenges,
lunch, elimination matches, shower, makeup, individual interviews, dinner, bed.
Every moment of these long days was subject to being filmed, including meals.
At breakfast one day the players sat elbow-to-elbow at a circular table, ringed
by cameramen and producers and support staff. As they picked at their food, the
competitors lazily swatted away gnats, but they just as easily could have been
shooing the large boom mike that hovered overhead. The topic of conversation
that morning? The Apprentice. It was a postmodern moment: reality-TV
contestants talking about reality-TV contestants while the cameras rolled.
fortnight in Hawaii a regular conversational touchstone was Big Break III. The
players often referenced their predecessors, and one contestant appeared to
know a little too much about previous Big Breaks. Ashley Prange, a 24-year-old
from Newport Beach, Calif., who played at North Carolina, is a hyperconfident
young talent who did little to disguise her desire to crush the competition. It
all depends on the editing, of course, but Prange is poised to follow in
Amiee's footsteps as a polarizing love/hate character. Says one fellow
competitor, "There's no doubt Ashley studied Big Break III-not only the
challenges but also the psychological aspects. She's gotten under the skin of a
couple of girls, and I don't think it's an accident."
The tensions were
hardly confined to the golf course. The contestants were forced to bunk
together in pairs assigned by the show's producers. The down-to-earth, crunchy
Lucidi and the glam, high-maintenance DiSanto spent much of their stay in
Hawaii getting on each other's nerves. At one point Lucidi buttonholed a Golf
Channel staffer and asked, "Do you hate me? Are you punishing me?"