By Stephen Zinger
It happened again. Another season of Big Break on Golf Channel was fast approaching and I had seen some of the early advertisements and player profiles. Much like the other seasons of the golf reality series, there was one contestant that caught my attention, and this season of Big Break Atlantis was no different. For me, there is usually one contestant that stands out among the other contestants before viewers even get to see them hit a golf shot. This time around, that contestant was Meghan Hardin. Unfortunately, her tenure on this season’s show was limited to one episode. However, Meghan was kind enough to give GolfWRX some time to provide us with some insight into her experience on the show and her direction as a newly minted professional golfer.
I began my interview by providing her with a description GolfWRX, and Megan was quick to tell me that an explanation was unnecessary because she is a member of the site as are several of her friends. She is well aware of the variety of topics covered and has paid attention to what the readership has written about her. I explained that for a variety of reasons, she seemed to be the favorite contestant of the show, and she responded with laugh, “Yeah, I know.”
At 19 years old, Meghan is the youngest contestant since the show’s inception. She terminated her brief collegiate career and status as an amateur to turn professional which is required of all contestants. Meghan said her motivation to turn professional was not solely motivated by the Big Break, and she believes the professional mini tours provide a higher level of competition than collegiate golf. She explained that not having to worry about the other demands of college life, such as studying, papers and tests will redirect her focus in obtaining status on the LPGA Tour.
“I get to be my own boss and compete in tournaments I want to compete in,” she said.
Meghan’s experience on the Big Break was different than her expectations going into the show. She said she could not plan a strategy because rules and formatting were not made clear to contestants. During the initial episode when reading the signs along the walk on the beach, she believed that based on the point format, she assumed the contestants would not be eliminated in the traditional manner.
“I was doing my best, but wasn’t fighting for my life like I should have been,” she said.
As a result of the early elimination, Meghan believes her distinct competitive drive was not conveyed in only one episode. She said her motivation as a contestant was not simply to “get on T.V.”
“I didn’t give up the amateur status, and I’m not practicing ten hours a day to just be on T.V,” she said.
She said she realized in the show’s biographical information, it described her as a part-time model. Meghan said she’s only done one photo shoot in her life, and her focus remains on grinding it out on the golf course, driven to achieve her goals.
“I don’t want people to think because I wore a bathing suit, that I’m not serious [about golf],” she said. “In reality, any 19-year-old girl from Southern California is going to be wearing a bathing suit in the Bahamas.”
After elimination from the Big Break, Meghan appeared on an episode of Golf Channel’s The Golf Fix with Michael Breed.
“That was so much fun, I liked that more than the first episode for sure,” she said. “When I got eliminated, after about 14 days of laying on the beach and not a lot of practice, they told me, oh by the way, tomorrow morning you’re going to have a lesson with a guest instructor. I didn’t know until I arrived that it was Michael Breed.”
Meghan said Breed gave her a lot of good tips that she still implements in her swing today. She said Breed weakened her grip making it more neutral, and helped her with her “flip” at impact. After the taping for the show, she said Breed continued to work with her on much of the same instruction seen on the show. When asked if there were a chance we would see her again on future episodes, Meghan responded, “There is a chance. …There is a very good chance.”
At the time of this interview, Meghan had only competed in one tournament on the Cactus Tour (A woman’s professional tour in Phoenix, AZ.) She shot a 79, 77, 76 for a 14th place finish. She cited a considerable amount of nerves trying to prove herself so people would not think she was simply a one hit wonder from the Big Break. Overall, she was not disappointed in her play and said she is working on hitting more greens in regulation. She believes that gap between her and the top players on this tour is small. One drawback to playing on the Cactus Tour is cost. Meghan estimated the expense for her first tournament in the Phoenix area was approximately $2,500. The prize for a first place win was $1,500. Meghan is hoping the tour expands into Southern California to eliminate some of these costs.
Meghan continues to reside in the mountains of Lake Arrowhead, Calif. She plays out of two clubs, Lake Arrowhead Country Club and Arrowhead Country Club. She recently posted a YouTube video (see below) of her during a practice session to send a message that she is serious about golf and her game. Meghan admits some of what has been written about her game in the golf forums has been hurtful. She said on the Big Break, she would warm up for a half hour, then wait four hours before hitting a single shot. She did not feel it was an accurate representation of the depth of her game.
“I posted the video to tell people, listen here, I’m serious about my game,” she said. ‘I am not going around to fashion shows. I’m practicing 10-12 hours a day.”
A typical day in the life of Meghan Hardin begins with a 6 a.m. wake-up call. She runs to her Mom’s home which is about a mile and a half away and spends some time working out in a home gym for about an hour. Following this morning workout, she runs back home to get ready for golf. Her stepfather is also her caddie/swing coach. He played college golf with Paul Goydos at Long Beach State. She varies her practice by spending 10 to 12 hours on the range and practice green, breaking only for lunch. There are other days where she will warm up on the range, but much of the day is spent playing on course, up to 54 holes a day. Meghan and her stepfather review and revise her practice schedule each week.
“I’m blessed to be able to golf everyday and not have to worry about paying for lessons or a caddie,” she said.
After filming ended for the Big Break, Meghan was diagnosed with severe ADD/ADHD and was prescribed medication to address those health concerns.
“It’s helped my golf game immensely, she said. “I wished I had the medication when I was in school.”
Meghan believes top touring professionals in golf separate themselves from the rest with mental confidence in themselves and their game. She plans on playing the Cactus Tour again July 9-11, in Las Vegas, Nev., then at least two tournaments a month until the LPGA Qualifying School in September. Meghan is going to give it her best and has a goal to reach the LPGA within two years. She does not rule out giving up her amateur status and returning to collegiate golf.
“If after two years it feels I am not going to make it, USC has always been my dream school, so I will probably try to go there,” she said. “I have my Associates degree, so I only have two years of school left.”
Meghan gave me a rundown of what she currently has in her bag. She’s currently sponsored by TaylorMade/Adidas Golf and was fitted at TaylorMade’s The Kingdom, in Carlsbad, Calif. Megan said she had the opportunity to meet Taylor Made CEO, Mark King, and expressed gratitude in the manner in which she has been treated by him and the company as a young professional.
“They’ve been great, I am really thankful,” she said.
What’s in Meghan’s bag
Driver: Taylor Made R11s 9*
Fairway woods: Taylor Made RBZ 3 & 7 woods
Hybrids: Taylor Made RBZ 4 HB
Irons: Taylor Made RBZ 5-PW
Wedges: Taylor Made ATV 50/54/58
Putter: Taylor Made Ghost Manta Center Shaft
Meghan Fun Facts
– She received Girl Scout Gold Award, which is the highest award in the organization.
– When she was 14, she was nicknamed Meghan Man Shoulders because she was into body building. She could bench press 165 pounds.
– She is obsessed with video games, her favorites being The Sims, Call of Duty, Tony Hawk, and Halo. Last year, she became so obsessed with playing The Sims, she popped a blood vessel in her eye and could not stare at a TV for 48 hours.
You can learn more about Meghan on her website, www.meghanhardin.com
You can also follow her on Twitter @MeghanAHardin
Click the link for a video of her practice session on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UChep5CMxM0skbwge37wkymQ