Golfweek caught up with Nicole Smith, a former Big Break Ireland contestant and Golfweek.com blogger, at the final stage of Q-School to get a review of the past season:
Golfweek: What did you learn through the Big Break experience that helped you with the pressure of Q-School?
Nicole Smith: Being on the Big Break teaches you to just really manage one shot at a time. That’s kind of what I took out of it, and I took Mark (Murphy, series winner and caddie for Nicole). I took Mark out of it.
GW: How cool was it to have Mark on the bag for you? How much did he help?
NS: He’s incredible. We worked a lot of different shots in the practice round and being from Ireland, he knows a lot of wind game. He’s really smart and just helped me stay calm, made me laugh in situations that I probably wouldn’t normally laugh in, just kept me going. At the same time he can also tell you you’re being an a-hole. He’ll be like. … That’s good, a strength of a caddie, someone who is willing to tell you how they actually feel, is important. He definitely did that.
GW: How did spending time in Ireland and playing golf there improve your game?
NS: We were only there two weeks so we only played one round of 18 holes. You hit a few shots here and there. I think it’s a little less golf than people realize, but I did get to see some beautiful courses.
GW: Aside from the taping of the Big Break, was there something else that stands out in your mind as the coolest thing you did there?
NS: Besides doing the show, they took us to the Guiness factory and then they took us to this pub up in the hills, it’s like the highest altitude pub in Dublin. It was fantastic.
GW: How do you compare the Big Break experience to normal Futures Tour life? Is it the same at all?
NS: No, and that’s really why I went on it. I think going on Big Break teaches you, it’s just a whole different experience that you will never get to play. I say a round of golf is a story, and being on Big Break is like reading a line of a book. It’s one shot do or die and that’s it, you don’t have the next hole to make up for it. It just is what it is.
GW: Having had that experience, plus more pro experience and going to Q-School all in the past year, what area of your game has improved the most?
NS: The amount of shots that I have available. Being able to stand up there and say, you can either fly this club its full distance or you can take that club, one or two higher, and make you go the same but on a different flight. Learning to move the ball, just by literally walking up to it, see it and rip it.
GW: What are your plans for the off-season?
NS: I’m going to work a lot with my coach and get some things hammered out and really straigtened away for whatever comes next year. Wherever I am, to make sure that I go out and am ready. Then I’ll work, because you gotta make money somehow.