Former Big Break star finds voice on new website
ORLANDO, Fla. - Charles Calhoun has truly come home.
Or so it may seem to someone totally obsessed with golf.
Over a thousand miles away from his previous home of Marietta, Ohio, Calhoun is now a fixture in the golf pro capital of the world, honing his game and a new website he hopes will benefit from his celebrity status as a former participant in the Golf Channel's smash reality show, The Big Break.
"Ever since I got into the game of golf, I've accumulated all kinds of information," Calhoun says. "Every time I did something I wrote down the experience, things I've learned about the game, things that improved my ability, and things I thought could improve the game of golf in general.
"So I've put all of this on the website with the purpose of keeping people informed of the true nature of the game of golf and my instructional philosophies."
Calhoun was one of the most popular Big Break personalities, but his unceremonious early exit earned him as much negative publicity as it did adulation. A series of ugly shots in episode three made some viewers skeptical of Calhoun's ability. The letters and e-mails he received were another motivating factor for creating the website, calhoungolf.com.
"My handicap was based on my home course," Calhoun says. "People may have questioned it, but I shoot under par in Marietta just about every time I go there. I shoot some bad numbers and some good numbers, but they don't know how hard I've worked at this game."
The Big Break II is currently under way with 10 highly skilled golfers vying for the right to compete in four internationally televised Nationwide Tour events on The Golf Channel in 2005. Calhoun didn't say whether he's watching it or not, but he did have some clear thoughts on the show's success.
"I think as the first group that we did The Golf Channel a major service," he says. "Look at the new sponsors and the prizes the winner will receive and the location where they're competing (Las Vegas). Will we be rewarded for that service? You never know."
"I think the show will do well," Calhoun added. "It's a great show, a great concept no matter what you receive or don't receive."
Calhoun admitted he's pulling for the two African-American contestants, but regardless of who wins, he believes they should heed his words of caution.
"The influence of what you do on the show will reflect on you as an individual in everyday life," he says. "Regardless of how you do, that's what people see and that's their impression."
Calhoun is hoping people have a better impression of his website than they do of his brief stint on television. Visitors to the site can read about Calhoun's background, his theory as to why Tiger Woods is struggling, tidbits on golf psychology, and his "Two Cents' Worth" on the Americans' recent loss in the Ryder Cup.
"We can sugarcoat it all we want, saying that the Americans played good and got beat by a team that played better," Calhoun says. "But the Europeans just played smarter. We've lost our sense of toughness and let technology and big name corporations dictate the game of golf. But the game of golf boils down to playing the game, and we've simply lost our sense of that."
"Guys out of college only have a name," Calhoun continued. "They haven't played against people who are trying to feed their families or do something great. They're not battle-tested, but corporations want to throw millions of dollars at them for doing nothing. We don't have to prove ourselves anymore, and we're losing the integrity of who we are and what the game is about."
Also on the site are pictures of Calhoun practicing his game. When he goes to the driving range, he hands out business cards to market the website.
He claims the site has already been visited by several thousand people and has also received 44,000 hits. When he's not practicing or updating the site, Calhoun is caddying at the Grand Lakes Resort of Orlando at the Ritz-Carlton and serving as a guest instructor at the Windermere Golf Center.
But his ultimate dream is to play on a professional tour.
"I know the things I need to work on, and as long as I see improvement I'll decide exactly how I will move to the next level," Calhoun says. "But I want to learn how to play the game and not just jump in a tournament. The thing about this game is that you'll know when you're ready."
In the meantime, he'll keep finding new ways to take advantage of the publicity The Big Break gave him, so that maybe he'll get another big break someday.
"It's my responsibility to take advantage of my publicity," Calhoun says. "There isn't a place down here (Orlando) where I haven't been recognized. They say, ‘Hey, you're Charles. The show wouldn't have been the same without you.' So it's obvious I had an affect on people. I'm going to take advantage of that and do what's best for me."
What's in the bag?
Titleist 975D 8.5-degree driver, Snake Eyes Quick Strike 14-degree 3-wood, Ping ISI 1-iron, Callaway X12 Pro Series irons, Steel Plus XL-14 52-degree and 60-degree wedges, Odyssey Dual Face Rossie 1 putter and Callaway HX Red ball.
September 22, 2004