When Laura London was selected to be one of 18 contestants for The Golf Channel’s upcoming “Big Break VI: Trump National,’’ the longtime Scottsdale resident was “totally shocked.’’ “I had auditioned for the ‘Big Break V,’ thought I had really nailed (the audition), and that ended up with me getting an e-mail from them saying, ‘Thanks, but you’re not what we had in mind,' " London said.
“Then eight months later I get a call from Orlando, and they said, ‘Do you still want to do it?’ So I did the audition all over again, didn’t do nearly as well as the first time, and they called four days later and said I was a semifinalist.”
From those 36 semifinalists, nine men and nine women were selected to join Donald Trump for two weeks at his Trump National Golf Club in the suburbs of Los Angeles. And, yes, London will be among the cast competing for two LPGA and two Champions exemptions along with perks like free Learjet service, new cars and cash.
Trump will add his own twists to the competition, because according to the hype behind the event, which premieres 7 p.m. Tuesday (Arizona time) and concludes Dec. 19 with two winners — one male, one female — it’s all about “The Donald,’’ as in “his place, his rules, his money.’’
How the 26-year-old London fares in all of this remains to be seen. If she’s the ultimate winner among the women, she’s doing an excellent job of hiding her satisfaction.
“I don’t have a clue about how they’re going to portray me,’’ she said of TGC’s latest reality series. “From what I’ve heard, they take your personality and magnify it by 10.
“I could be the villain, because I always wear black on the golf course, and every story needs a villain. Or I could be the one everybody’s pulling for, because they realize I’m a pretty normal girl.’’
Chances are, there will be a little of both, as London admits she let her platinum blonde hair down for this one, and that includes an autograph session with Trump that ended with him signing her left breast.
“It was just a spur-of-the-moment thing,’’ London said of the incident that TGC is sure to jump all over. “(Trump) is a rock star, and I just thought, ‘I might as well treat him like one.’ ’’
So who is this effervescent Laura London, and what do we know about her as she awaits her international cable-television debut?
London spent her early childhood in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Flagstaff, where she was an ice-skating phenom along with her younger brother, Benoit Beisser. When she was 10, the family moved to Scottsdale, where Laura suffered a career-ending ankle injury about the same time Benoit got hurt playing hockey.
“My parents (Nick and Deanna Beisser) had just joined Ancala Country Club, and it was a foursome decision,’’ London said of the shift in sports. “Our family has always been a team, and we still look at it that way.’’
In high school, Laura became the captain of the Desert Mountain boys golf team, chiefly because there was no girls team at the time. Benoit, who is two years her younger, became the star of that team. After passing up a scholarship to Arizona State, London spent two years struggling on the Futures Tour before heading back to the East Valley, where she and Benoit both attended and graduated magna cum laude from the professional golf management program at ASU.
Since then, London has worked for the ASU Karsten Course, Legend Trail Golf Club and Hot Stix in the East Valley, as well as St. John’s Golf Club in St. Augustine, Fla. But it’s her latest gig on TGC that she hopes will deliver her big break and ignite her golf career.
“I’ve always been able to control my own life, but for two weeks, I was told to do this, and do that, with no outside communication,’’ she said of the filming. “We all went thought a real range of emotions, because it’s nonstop — from 4:30 in the morning until sometimes midnight.
“Sleep deprivation makes you even more emotional and irritable to the point where you end up saying, ‘Is this the day I snap and go mental?’ ’’
According to London, the competition is fierce, “because we all wanted it so much, and with Donald Trump being there all the time, it was a lot of pressure.
“Overall, it was an awesome experience, and I just hope that people get to see the real me,’’ added London, who will host a Big Break VI party for friends and family at a local pub Tuesday night.