Annie Brophy made a rare return to her hometown recently to catch up on conver- sations with family and friends.
But the LPGA Futures Tour rookie and graduate of Gonzaga Prep couldn’t talk much about what most people wanted to know.
The 24-year-old Brophy spent the last two weeks of May in Kildare, Ireland, as a member of the cast of the Golf Channel’s “Big Break Ireland,” which will premier Sept. 20 at 6 p.m.
And in keeping with the production contract she had signed, she was unable to tell anyone how she had fared in the 12-person elimination skills competition that awards the top female and male finisher with a pair of exemptions into events on either the LPGA, European or Ladies European tours.
“Honestly, when I first got back from the trip, I wanted to tell everybody, but I didn’t,” said Brophy, who played her college golf at Notre Dame and has since returned back east to compete in the Futures Tour’s $110,000 Pennsylvania Classic that started Friday in Harrisburg, Pa. “It was the only thing on my mind, but I knew I couldn’t talk about it, and most people understood.
“It was hard at first, but now that it’s more in the past, I don’t think about it, or get asked about it, as much.”
Looking back on the experience, in which she competed against five other professional women golfers, Brophy has fond memories. But she admits she had no idea what she was getting into when she signed up at a Futures Tour stop to audition to become a cast member of the popular “Big Break” series, which is returning for its 16th season.
“I knew what it was and I knew it existed, because I knew a couple of people who had been on the show before,” she said. “I had watched one full episode of it last summer, though, because a girl I was rooming with at the Ohio Open was on it.
“But that was pretty much the extent of it.”
In an effort to bring her daughter up to speed, Brophy’s mother, Nancy, sent her a video of one entire season of Big Break.
“When I watched it I thought, ‘Yeah, this is definitely something I want to be a part of,’ ” Brophy said. “But I still really had no grasp of what I was getting myself into.”
What she found when she arrived in Ireland and began competing at The K Club was a cast of personable pros, a couple of whom she had met and played against at Future Tour events – along with a grueling production schedule that left her physically and mentally drained.
“I can’t even tell you how long some of the days were,” she said. “I just remember on one of the first days of competition, I was up at 4 a.m. and didn’t go to bed until 2 o’clock the next morning. It was exhausting.”
Several past Big Break episodes have featured animated run-ins between participants, with some snarky comments being exchanged. But Brophy said the other 11 competitors in Ireland were “all really nice and easy to get along with.”
As far as she knows, that is.
“We are all competitors on the show, and after you’ve had that (microphone) pack on for a while, you can sometimes forget you’re wearing it,” she said. “I know I was a little grumpy after that first long day of competition, so …
“We’ll just have to wait and see who said what about who when the show airs.”
Brophy has stayed in touch with several of her Big Break Ireland castmates and claims no matter how the event turned out, she enjoyed the ride.
“Even if nothing were to come of it in terms of being on TV, or winning prizes and getting those tournament exemptions, it was still an incredible experience,” she said. “And I feel very fortunate to have been a part of it.
“I just hope I didn’t say anything really stupid. Or that if I did, they have some good editors on the program.”