CHARLOTTE — Rockingham native Whitney Wright had a bit of an idea of what to expect when she agreed to participate in the next installment of the Golf Channel’s “Big Break.”
Wright’s ex-boyfriend Robbie “Shank” Biershenk was a cast member of the “Big Break: Indian Wells.”
“He was in a World Long Drive contest in Las Vegas last October, when someone from the Golf Channel saw him,” Wright said. “He didn’t do well, but he was making the crowd laugh. They called him two weeks later asking if he wanted to be on the ‘Big Break.’”
Wright added that in the weeks leading up to Biershenk’s departure to Indian Wells is when the show’s producers got to see her for the first time.
“Before he left, they sent him a Flip camera to video his life,” Wright said. “That’s when they saw me. Once they realized I was a golfer, they called me to see if I was interested. I flew to Orlando for an hour interview and they told me I was going to be on the next one.”
Even with the little knowledge she gathered about the show from Biershenk, she wasn’t 100 percent prepared when she stepped foot onto a flight for the Big Apple in early May.
“They are real secretive about things,” Wright said. “They really don’t tell you a lot. They sent me an email that said you are going to need your passport and to pack for extreme East Coast-like weather.
“I didn’t know what they meant. Did they mean East Coast as in New York or South Carolina? All I knew was we were flying to New York.”
Once Wright landed at John F. Kennedy airport, she met two other contestants and thought she had an inkling of the show’s dynamic.
“I thought it was going to be an all-girls show, but the next person to come in was a guy,” Wright said.
Learning where they’re going
After all 12 participants arrived in New York, it was time for the next location to be revealed.
“They told us we were going to Ireland and to the K-Club,” Wright said. “They split us up on two flights, so I thought this was going to be the teams and we were going to play a Ryder Cup-format.”
Once it was known where the episodes were going to be filmed, she and the other contestants realized they were not properly packed for Ireland.
“No one was prepared for that type of weather,” Wright said. “It was 30 degrees, with rain and it was windy. I get picked for the ‘Big Break’ and I go to Ireland, not the Dominican Republic or Hawaii. I am going somewhere where I can’t even wear my bikini.”
Not what it appears to be on TV
Once she arrived in Ireland, Wright realized the show is more reality-based television than golf. She liken it to “Big Break meets Big Brother.” Wright said they spilt the 12 participants into two teams of six and had them living in separate houses.
“We were living in houses beside each other, but they didn’t want us to talk to them,” Wright said. “They really wanted us to hate the other team.”
Wright explained a typical day of shooting began at 4:30 a.m. for the teams to eat breakfast before heading to the practice range at 6. After warming up and hitting balls for nearly 30 minutes, it was then a waiting game for her and the rest of the cast.
“They would tell us the challenge for the day, then they would have to set it up,” Wright said. “Sometimes it would take a few hours before we would hit a ball again.”
While there are still the golf elements to the show and the signature challenges like breaking the glass panes, as well as, the wall to hit a flop shot over, Wright said it is still a TV show where the producers want to have some conflict between the contestants.
“It’s a TV show and they can edit it any way they want,” Wright said. “I was nervous because you are mic’ed the whole time. They put everyone in a character. I think they will portray me as a small-town southern girl.”
The first episode of “Big Break: Ireland” will air at 9 p.m. Tuesday on the Golf Channel.
Contact Sports editor Shawn Stinson at 997-3111, ext. 14 or firstname.lastname@example.org.