Most average golfers dream of what it would be like to play professional golf for a living.
After all, Tiger Woods makes it look too easy. But unless you started playing as a child, spent
thousands of hours perfecting your swing, have nerves of steel and can hit the sweet spot
again and again and again… you’re probably going to keep dreaming.
Chaunce Hayden: You seem to be doing very well as a model. How did you end up on the Golf Channel’s reality show, “The Big Break”?
Blair O’Neal: : I went to a casting call in L.A. three years ago and interviewed for the show. A week later, I got a call that I was a semi-finalist to be on the show. So a few weeks later, they fly me and 20 other players to Florida to play a round of golf in front of the Golf Channel people. We did a few more interviews, and I flew home. But then I got a call
that I wasn’t picked for the show. Needless to say, I was pretty upset. I really wanted to be on the show.
Obviously, the story doesn’t end there.
Well, this past summer I got a call from the Golf Channel, and they said, “We’ve been following your career and what you’ve been doing, and we want to have you on for the new season of ‘The Big Break.’ Would you be available?” I
said, “Of course!” Getting on “The Big Break” seems more stressful than being on “The Big Break.” (Laughs) That’s definitely not the case because being on the show is the type of stress you could never prepare for!
Although the show is only into it’s fourth episode, you seem to be gliding along very easily?
I know! You don’t get much airtime doing so well. You get through all the challenges in the beginning of the show and then you just sit quietly on the bench while the others compete. But that’s a good thing!
Has “The Big Break” turned out to be a big break for you? Are you getting calls and offers
from the LPGA, modeling agencies, Hollywood directors, etc.?
Yeah. Well, it’s a show that I’ve always wanted to do, and I have to say I’m glad I didn’t get picked three
years ago when I first wanted to be on it. I think the time I had in between, to grow as a person and a
player, was much needed. So it really is a big break for me to be picked to be on the show. It’s early still, but
I’m hoping a lot of great things come from it.
Reality TV and golf doesn’t seem like the perfect match. The sport is known to be a little conservative and reality TV is well, reality TV. What has been the reaction to “The Big Break” from the golf purist and other pros on the tour?
I’m actually surprised by how many people watch the show and how many people are “Big Break” junkies. Everyone seems to love the show. Last week, I was in San Diego playing in a charity golf event and as soon as I got out of the car, people were coming up to me and saying how much they love the show and how they wanted to meet me. It’s crazy how many people watch the show and enjoy it. We seem to have a pretty good following.
How do you think “The Big Break” would do if it were on a network like FOX rather than the Golf Channel? Do you think non-golf junkies would get into the show?
I do think to a point you have to understand the game to enjoy the challenges. Plus, a lot of pro golfers know the
players on the show. I think it makes it more exciting when you know the people on the show. But that said,
I do think it would take off if people who weren’t necessarily into golf gave it a chance. I’m sure it would
peak their interests.
Six women and six men competing against each other seem like a recipe for romance. You can almost feel the sexual tension just by watching the show.
(Laughs) I think you’re talking about Derrick and Nicole! On last Monday’s episode they kind of showed a little romance building. But like you said, you get six men and six girls together and we’re competing under pressure situations all the time, you start to know each other pretty well. You’re just going to have to watch the show to see how all that progresses.
One of the guys on the show is wrapped a little too tightly, to say the least. Of course I’m talking about Brian. I’m not a shrink, but I’m pretty sure he’s ready to pop. What’s the deal with him?
(Laughs) Brian is very, very intense! He’s also kind of hard on himself. He’s actually a nice guy, but some of the things that come out of his mouth are so shocking. You just sit back and wait to see what he’s going to say
next. It makes for good TV and keeps the show interesting. But he is definitely a character, and he adds a little something to the show with his personality.
Do you think some of the cast members on the show play it up a little bit to get more airtime and hopefully a little fame?
That is very true! The people who talk more and make more comments about other people will always get more airtime. Brian is always talking and always has something to say. (Laughs) I don’t know if its all-positive air time though! But that’s just Brian. He’s just interesting like that.
Why can’t women and men play against each other in golf? It doesn’t
take size or strength as much as it takes technique and finesse. Even on “The Big Break,”
it seems the women are always beating the men.
Overall, guys hit it a lot further than a lot of the females. That’s probably the main concern. The guys are a little bit stronger and can hit it further. They have different shots that we have. Even on “The Big Break” we play 80 percent
of the distance that they hit from just to even it out.
What’s the furthest you ever hit a ball off a tee?
Definitely over 300 yards. In college, I won the long drive contest two out of three years. I think the
second year I won it at 306 yards.
So how much further do you have to hit the ball to compete against the men?
(Laughs) I hit it far for a girl. That’s always been the strength of my game.
How do you do it?
It’s all timing. I also have a natural swing. Have you ever bet a guy money during a round of golf and taken him to the cleaners? Oh yeah! I was playing at a charity golf tournament, and they had hired some models to be at the event. So I started talking to this group of guys and asked if they wanted to bet who could hit the ball closer to the green. They said, “Sure! Why wouldn’t we want to do that?” So we bet 100 bucks. I walked up to the tee without even taking
a practice swing and not even wearing golf clothes and swung. I hit it right by the pin. They couldn’t believe it. Needless to say, we raised a lot of money for the charity that day! It was a lot of fun.
Do you give private lessons?
I do. I’ve taught at a few of the Nike golf schools and I also give personal lessons.
I can’t even imagine what a one-hour private lesson would cost with you.
(Laughs) It depends!
Give me one golf tip that will change the way I play the game forever.
When you hit a bad shot or have a bad hole, you got to let it go. It’s the hardest thing to do in golf, but it’s the most important. You have to control your emotions. Forget about it, and move on.
Finally, if you could pick your dream foursome, who would it be?
Probably Tiger Woods and my dad and my grandpa.
How do you think Tiger would do on “The Big Break”?
(Laughs) He would do very well. I don’t think the pressure would get to him. I’m sure of that.