07/20/08 — Ultimate vacation: Goldsboro's Crain, King compete on reality TV show

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Ultimate vacation: Goldsboro's Crain, King compete on reality TV show

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 20, 2008 1:32 PM

Andy Crain got invited to take the perfect vacation -- and he just couldn't leave his good buddy Parker King behind.

A semi-retired golfer on the Tar Heel Tour, Crain had tried out for the latest "Big Break" TV reality series aired on the Golf Channel. He didn't get picked, but producers kept him in mind when they created a new series -- "Highway 18 -- Slow Play Is Not An Option."

"They called me and told me a little bit what the show was about," said Crain. "They said it was a two-man team, and I needed to pick a partner. They said 'we want real relationships and golf is a part of it.'"

Crain immediately called King.

"I knew this was our trip," laughed Crain. "PK kind of hesitated and said 'I don't know if I want to do it, but I'll do it for you buddy.'"

The slap-stick duo completed their application and submitted it to producers.

Once the applications had been reviewed, Crain and King were flown to Florida for an interview. Producers contacted Crain in February and said the pair had been selected for the show.

"We've taken some great road trips together," said Crain.

But little did they know what they were facing this time.

One of five teams, the fun-loving -- yet competitive -- Crain and King raced through Florida with pitstops that presented a variety of challenges. Producers roused the contestants from bed at 5 each morning and kept them active until the late evening hours. Agitated with little snooze time, each team had to beat the clock, the elements and each other to avoid elimination.

The 1,000-mile tour navigated from St. Augustine to Key West and each stop included three parts -- a start challenge, a road challenge and a clubhouse challenge. Once the start challenges were revealed to the contestants, they had to test their skill or trivia on either golf courses, beaches or a swamp.

Road challenges included quick stops at highway driving ranges or non-traditional settings such as Daytona International Speedway. Clubhouse challenges took place at famous courses or municipal facilities off the beaten path.

"You didn't have much time to prepare, but me and Crain, we never really prepare anyway," said King. "We just free-balled ... whatever you want to call it. We didn't do a lot of thinking, but just reacted to the situation and handled it the best way possible."

Crain said neither he nor King second-guessed decisions.

"It was make a decision and go with it," he said. "It was a race ... no time to sit there and mull over what you needed to do. But most of the decision-making was left up to me because I'm the one who makes the right decision most of the time."

King rolled his eyes.

"The truth is, he's just big," said King of Parker's larger stature. "He's just a big man ... not afraid of him because I can outrun him."

Each team had its own camera crew and was wired for sound the entire time. Cell phones weren't allowed and the players couldn't listen to the radio while on trips between challenges.

Crain and King stayed entertained -- and entertained others -- with their country-boy banter, passing away the time until their next adventure began. Their camera crew could hardly contain their laughter at some of the conversation that flowed between Crain and King, who confessed they had crushes on each other's sister at one time.

"We just talked about stupid stuff," chided King, who still caddies for Crain in local tournaments. "But you're fatigued pretty much the whole day ... give out from stopping and going, stopping and going."

Neither King nor Crain could reveal, due to contest rules, how the challenges end each week. Their first challenge, which will air Tuesday at 10 p.m. on the Golf Channel, ended at TPC Sawgrass where they met legend Arnold Palmer. But, they couldn't stay for a chat since gawking would cost them time and money.

In the end, the two were glad they took on the challenge -- together.

"It was a great experience ... something we'll always remember," said King.

As an ultimate road trip should be.