BOULDER — Former University of Colorado All-American women’s golfer Emily Talley makes her television debut Monday as a contestant on the latest installment of the Golf Channel reality show “Big Break”, which was filmed in Mexico this season.
It’s been a year in the making for Talley and her reality career to get off the ground, as it was shortly after she graduated from Colorado that she began the process.
“Everybody always said I’d be good for the show, that I’m a happy golfer and show a lot of enthusiasm,” Talley said. “I always thought it would be fun, so as soon as my college career was over I signed up for the Big Break audition.”
It would be a long process full of waiting, but in the end it was well worth the wait. About a month later last July, Talley heard that she made the first round of cuts and would be brought in for an interview, and that’s when she showed the show just how good she would be.
“It worked out that I went to Arizona for two days,” Talley said. “I had a large iced coffee so I was bouncing off the walls for the audition.
“One of my friends was also auditioning,” Talley continued. “I started 15 minutes before her and was done after her. When somebody asks me a question I’ll just run with it for days until I’ve squeezed every last drop out of it.”
If there was a moment Talley looks back on and thinks may have been the moment she made them notice her, it was a question about what kind of foursome she would play with.
“I said I’d play with a group of guys,” Talley said. “They’re more fun, they bet and I like taking their money. After I said that I saw one of the producer’s eyes get really big, and I think he liked that answer so I thought I was in good shape after that.”
Meanwhile her professional career was beginning to take off. While she was Monday qualifying for the Canadian Open after winning the Norwegian National Amateur and California State Amateur championships, things were silent on the Big Break front. She was also doing very well at Q-School, successfully qualifying out of the first two stages and coming just three strokes away from earning her card after Stage 3.
It wasn’t until November that she heard anything. She was at the Arizona State Open when she got a call she had made it to the third round of interviews. Then after missing her LPGA card by three strokes at the third stage of qualifying school, she got the call that would change her life.
“You don’t hear anything forever,” Talley said. “I had a feeling they were waiting for Stage 3 to be over, because if you do well there, you have your card, you don’t need your Big Break.”
Talley was at the airport with her parents coming home from the final state of Q-School when she got the call. A bit of unfortunate timing probably left the producers thinking if this was the same Emily Talley they interviewed. She was at the check-out counter trying to sound excited but not make a big scene.
“I got the call and I told them I thought they were waiting for the third stage to be over,” Talley said. “What a great consolation prize.”
It was then another six weeks before she would leave for the filming of the show. She obviously couldn’t get into specifics of the show, but she was able to paint a picture of what it was like during a crazy three-and-a-half weeks of shooting.
Set that Riveria Maya at an Iberistar resort about 45 minutes south of Cancun, she explained, “It was great weather, great food, great drinks. Everybody on the show is so nice, all the crew is nice.”
Not that it was all roses.
“It was a stressful situation,” Talley explained. “But it was some of the best fun I’ve ever had. We had to get up at 4:30 a.m. every morning, we were mic’d up by 5 and by the time we were at the course, had the competitions, it was 5 p.m. before we were back. We’d all have dinner together and then your’ shooting interviews until midnight, and then you do it all over again. But when it’s something like a once in a lifetime opportunity, your body just figures out how to cope with it.”
It was also a long time for Talley to be disconnected from the world.
“We had no facebook, no social media,” Talley said. “We had about 10 minutes max per day checking our e-mail or making a quick call, and it was all monitored.”
Since the announcement of the shows contestants and the airing of the preview show a week ago, Talley has already seen an elevated level of exposure.
“I posted that I was going to be on the show on Facebook and it was the most response I have ever had,” Talley said. “I don’t think I could say I’m getting married and get that much response. But it’s fun, you see how many people love the show, how many people are rooting for you.
“A lot of people you don’t know connect with you on a TV show, you have a lot of people rooting for you,” Talley said. “Maybe I made them laugh or maybe they felt my frustration.”
Throughout the airing of the show, Talley will be busy on the Symetra Tour, but we will have regular updates with Talley throughout.