A Conversation with Jamaican golfer Carl Whyte, from the reality show “Big Break Indian Wells”

This week we have a conversation with Jamaican golfer Carl Whyte, who is currently a contestant on the Golf Channel’s reality show “Big Break Indian Wells”.  Carl hails from Manchester Jamaica and was a track athlete representing Jamaica during high school. He moved to the United States in 1997 on a track scholarship.  Carl no longer a track star but took up the golf 6 years ago and  went pro 2010. On the golf course Carl typically wears a belt with the Jamaica flag on the buckle. On the reality show “Big Break Indian Wells” he is known as the “The Jamerican”. Here is our conversation with Carl Whyte.

Q: Where in Jamaica are you from?
Green Mount, Manchester, Jamaica

Q: You went to the United States on a track scholarship. What event(s) did you specialize in on the track?
I had a full track scholarship to University of Maryland Eastern Shore. I ran cross-county (5 miles), 1500 m, and my pet event was 800m

Q: What degree did you graduate with?
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science (BS) Computer Science –UMES (2002) and I also have a Master of Business Administration (MBA) –Salisbury University (2010)

Q: What happened to your track career?
Track was a “means to an end”, pursuit of a degree, had no intention of running competitively beyond college. The college track experience killed that passion.

Q: When did you take up golf?
Started playing golf in the summer of 2004. I was introduce to me by my mentor, Dr Gary Hurlock, who was instrumental in me obtaining the track scholarship.

Q: How different was it from track and field?
Track parallels golf because both in essence are individual sports, and they both have an independent variable against which a competitor can go up against, and can ignore what his competition is doing, for track ‘it’s time” for golf “it’s your score”. For example, a world record can be set, at different venues, irrespective of who’s in the race, time is the determining factor. Similarly, a clubhouse lead can be set on a golf course irrespective of your playing partner and the other players, your score is the determining factor, the buck stops their though, golf requires a level of mental focus that is unparalleled by any other sport.

Q: They say your swing is a little different from the typical golfer? Can you explain?
A fundamental swing requires that the club stay on plane (maintain its original angle) throughout the swing, because I started playing golf late and didn’t invest in the lessons necessary to learn a fundament swing, I developed and ad-hoc approach, so it is true that my swing is not traditional. It must be noted however, that I have develop a unique approach to the game to compensate for this handicap (no pun intended). I see the word GOLF as an acronym and have coined the term Game Of Limited Fundamentals as its meaning; This concept (to be revealed after the show completes), has allowed me to fact track my game to a level that is uncommon for someone who has been playing for such a short time.

Q: How did you get on the reality show “Big Break Indian Wells”? Did you audition for the role?
To potentially become a contestant on the “Big Break” reality show, you have to initially complete and submit a detail application to The Golf Channel, if the producers like what they see on paper, they will invite you to an on camera interview in Orlando, FL, if you maintain that initial impression and your fit what they are looking for they will offer you a position on a season of the show, I was blessed enough to be chosen for the “Big Break Indian Wells” season. For the on camera interview, they will gauge how you are on camera (personality). They also require you to hit specific shots on camera. Their is also a handicap restriction, I believe you have to be scratch or better.

Q: Is the show taped live or do you already know the results?
The show is taped over a two week period and I do know the results.

Q: What is the prize for the winner?
Over $55,000 in cash, most importantly, an exemption in the 2012 Zurich Classic of New Orleans: you get to play in an actual PGA tour event, and other prizes.

Q: When is the season finale of the show?
All things being equal approximately July 18th 2011.

Q: They say you started playing golf late in life. Do you think it is too late for you?
I did start playing golf late, but because of the method described above and my unrelenting passion, dedication and unadulterated determination to succeed, I know with absolute certainty that it’s not too late. I just need to secure sponsorship so I can commit fully to playing more consistently. Regardless, I will make it to the PGA tour that is as sure as Taxes.

Q: Who is your favorite golfer?
Unapologetically Tiger Woods, I would never have picked up the clubs had it not been for how he has changed the face of the game, his sheer genius on the course and dominance and of course Gary introducing me to the game. I also like Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, a former Big Break contestant.

Q: Have you met any famous golfers.
If by met you mean actually talk to, then the answer is no. I have been up close and personal though at several major championships, which is enough for me.

Q: You mentor high school children once a month. How did you get into doing this?
Having been given so much I have a self-imposed obligation to give back, so I sought to find an organization that reflects my core values. An opportunity to pilot a mentorship program came available through the Character Counts Mid-Shore organization and I immediately volunteered. As a result I mentored a class from 9th grade for four years all the way through their graduation (2011).

Q: Tell us about the 7 P’s you preach to high school kids?
The Seven (7) P’s; Proper Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance, quite self-explanatory and a concept I have encourage all my mentees to use for all that they undertake.

Q: What do you do as a profession when you are not playing golf?
Currently I am an Information Technology Professional: Assistant Vice President / IT Manager at Easton Bank and Trust, Easton, Maryland

Q: Tell us about your golf practices during lunch breaks?
At this point, I am certifiably a “Golferholic” and I love golf so much that I play nine holes on my lunch hour during the week. This basically means that I must finish each hole in five minutes by running with my pull cart to every shot. You think being a competitive track athlete comes in handy around then? Yup. It certainly keeps my boss happy and I get my midday practice in.

Q: Seven day, six nights, all expense paid, my vacation destination is…
Australia: always wanted to see what’s “Down Under”

Q: Growing up my hero was…
Never had one…was however, tremendously inspired by our (Jamaica’s) original Bobsled Team (Devon Harris, The Stoke brother, etc)

Q: Thank for the time. Do you have any final words?
Wanted to reach out to all Jamaican, Jamericans, Yawdies, to let us start a Golf Academy on the island which would be free to all the kids, my ultimate objective would be to see Jamaica have Golfer Olympians in 2016, where golf returns to the Olympics after almost a century hiatus. I am ready to champion that cause and stand ready to be one of the Olympians as well. Thank you

The Big Break Indian Wells airs on the Golf Channel on Mondays at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. For more information on Jamaican golfer Carl Whyte see his facebook fan page.

About the author

Xavier Murphy