A thick band of humidity blankets the air around the putting green at Laurel Oak Country Club as storm clouds slowly begin to make their way across the horizon.
The course is relatively quiet this particular Thursday afternoon in mid-April, with only the occasional golf cart whizzing past or the sound of iron splitting the silence.
But, off to the right, on the putting green, one golfer stands alone.
Dressed in a black Golf Channel visor, black golf shirt and argyle shorts, Sarasota resident and 2004 Riverview High graduate Lindsey Bergeon walks back and forth across the green carefully lining up shot after shot.
She’s completely in her element. It isn’t surprising because, it’s the one area on the course Bergeon has routinely felt at home.
A few swings later, Bergeon whips her headphones out of her ears, packs up her clubs and prepares for what lies ahead.
As she makes her way back up to the club, countless members stop by to greet Bergeon — the vast majority of whom are eager to learn more about their hometown star’s recent adventure.
A sly smile spreads across Bergeon’s face. It’s the same look she’s given to everyone who has approached her about the subject. And her response has always been the same.
“I hope you’re right,” she says.
Bergeon has spent the past three months walking on eggshells after having been one of 12 golfers selected to be on the Golf Channel’s “Big Break Mexico,” which premieres May 13. The reality show pits six men and six women against one another for a chance to play a professional tour event.
Bergeon applied for the show last May and learned late last year that she had been selected.
“I cried,” Bergeon says. “I was so stunned. I was so sure I wouldn’t make it. I knew the interview went great, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.”
Bergeon didn’t tell anyone, with the exception of her mother, Lori, and fiancé, Kyle Phillips, that she had been chosen for the show.
Bergeon spent three weeks filming at Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf and Spa Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
“I’m excited to see it,” Bergeon says. “I felt like I was true blue to my character and myself 100% of the time.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about something from the show and smile about it,” Bergeon says. “It was a little bit like Cinderella. It was magical. It was kind of like living a dream for a short period of time.”
During the 12-episode season, competitors start out as teammates before eventually becoming rivals as they fight to win various challenges.
“It was the craziest, most stressful, most mind-blowing experience of my life,” Bergeon says. “Beyond just being on a golf reality show, it was a good chance for me to learn about myself.
“When you have 16 cameras and a 1,000-person crew, you see what you are made of,” Bergeon says.
Since she returned from Mexico, the usually open Bergeon has had to constantly remind herself to not give away any details.
“I’m constantly on guard,” Bergeon says. “I’ll usually just say whatever pops out of my mouth. It’s definitely taught me how to think before I speak. It’s a play of words all of the time.”
Although this may have been the most pressure Bergeon has been under, the 26-year-old is no stranger to the spotlight.
Bergeon began playing golf when she was 11 years old, after spending ample time on the course with her grandfather while her mom, a single mother, worked as nurse in the intensive care unit at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
Bergeon quickly discovered she had a knack for the game and began competing in Greater Sarasota Junior Golf Association Tournaments that year.
“I thought, ‘I can do this,’” Bergeon says. “I’m an only child and we tend to be super confident because we’re our whole family’s world.
“I really liked it,” Bergeon says. “It’s so different because it’s not an easy game in general. I was passionate about it right away.”
Bergeon spent four years playing for Riverview. She finished second in the state individually as a junior.
Bergeon went on to play for Florida Southern College in Lakeland, allowing her to remain close to her mom and golf coach at the time.
Bergeon turned professional upon graduation and has spent the past five years playing various pro tours around the world.
“I’ve been able to be a little selfish,” Bergeon says. “I’ve been able to travel the world and see so many places. I’ve put my personal life on hold, to an extent, but it’s been a great experience to see the places I’ve been able to see at my age.”
This year, Bergeon, who trains at Laurel Oak with Matt Auen, the club’s director of golf, plans to play the Canadian Tour and the State Opens with the hopes of one day playing on the LPGA Tour.
“That’s definitely my ultimate goal, but I’m lucky to be where I am,” Bergeon says.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].