The Crazy World of Golf Trick Shot Artists
Sometimes golf is seen as an elitist sport for snobby upper classes. They spend their day on the course speaking through clenched teeth and discussing stock options and gold futures.
Rock and Roll Atmosphere
That image is a long way from the rock and roll atmosphere of today’s golf trick shot artist. With a long history as a sideline entertainment at golf tournaments and corporate outings for many years, the proliferation of video and social media has brought a new generation of trick shot artist to center stage. Consider the Bryan brothers. George and his brother Wesley, natives of South Carolina, have taken their colorful trick shots to the web and garnered thousands of fans around the world, hard-core golfers and casual players alike. In their mid-20s, they are bringing younger fans to the game with their amazing displays of crazy trick shots. Starting with some bread and butter tricks, they expanded into themed presentations and partnering with high-profile golfers like Blair O’Neal.
This same blend of high energy, youth and ability to entertain fueled the incredible popularity of another group of young guns: Dude Perfect. Gaining fame with their amazing basketball shots, this group of young athletes out of Dallas Texas, also has some amazing golf trick videos garnering millions of hits on YouTube and other video channels. Early in 2015, Dude Perfect teamed up with Callaway and long drive champion Jamie Sadlowski to shoot a series of trick shot videos featuring the golf brands XR line of clubs. The shots included hitting golf balls off of aircraft carriers into small nets driven by guys on Jetskis, smashing golf balls so hard they blow up jugs of milk, Skittles packages and other items at high speed, and then played back in slow motion, hitting 3-point basketball shots from 100 yards, and on and on. Although Jamie Sadlowski is known as a long hitter, he also incorporates plenty of golf trick shots in his routine. His bag of tricks includes hitting shots into kiddie pools from 250 yards out, hitting balls off of a 3-foot high tee, turning a club over and hitting it upside down, hitting from both left and right hand sides, hitting 250-yard drives with a putter, driving ball through pineapples, hitting golf balls that are still in their package 250 yards and more. Dude perfect has grown into a phenomena, with partnership brands of some of the biggest companies in sports. They built their own headquarters that include a full studio in Dallas where they can shoot their crazy stunt videos.
However, it’s not just big names like a dude perfect that are in the golf trick shot game. Chris Hoch from Florida is striving to become a professional golfer by playing mini-tours like the Florida Professional Golf Tour. His first trick shot was a modification of something that he did with his father on the baseball diamond. His father would pitch the ball from behind him and he would hit it in midair into the park. One day on the driving range, they repeated this same trick, this time with a golf ball. It took a few tries, but they were soon able to coordinate their timing and consistently catch balls in midair, propelling them down the range. This seemingly small achievement led to additional trick shot videos which he posted to YouTube, attracting almost 100,000 followers there and slightly more on Twitter. He can also be seen on Vine, a site featuring short six second videos, driving golf balls through laptop computers and other crazy stunts.
Trick Shot Legend
Although technology and social media have created a new crop of golf trick shot stars, there has always been a roster of talented trick shot artists throughout the history of the game. One of the best known was Ben Witter, who recently ended a long battle with cancer. After a successful college career, he began to pursue his dream of playing on the PGA Tour. A diagnosis of cancer in his jaw in 1988 quashed that dream. However, he immediately shifted to coming a golf entertainer. While he was rehabbing in the hospital, he used a wedge that his mother gave him to while away the hours, bouncing a ball over and over on the face of the wedge.
The Tiger Woods of Trick Shot Artists
At a pro-am golf tournament he began to perform tricks and his legend quickly grew. His career spanned thousands of performances in more than 35 states and 14 countries around the globe. He performed his repertoire of tricks during a U.S. Open, and also appeared on the CBS “Early Show” TV program in 2011. Known as the golf world’s number one trick shot artist for many years, he would use a hammer as a club, hit shots on top of a exercise ball, hit shots off his knees, or use comically long drivers. Some people called him the “Tiger Woods” of the golf entertainment world.
Trick Shot Artist Career
It’s exciting to watch these trick shot artists, but how do they make money, and can anyone do it as a career? To make it is a trick shot artist, you have to have golf talent as a foundation. From there, you have to have the superior hand eye coordination needed to pull off delicate trick shots, as well as the athleticism necessary for some of the more physically demanding tricks. However, trick shots in and of themselves will not create a career. In the end, golf trick shots are under the banner of “golf entertainment.” That means that you have to develop an “act,” just like a singer or comedian has to develop an act. This requires experience entertaining a crowd. You can clearly see this in the development of Jamie Sadlowski over the years by viewing his YouTube videos. As he gained prominence and confidence in front of crowds, his ability to interact with and entertain crowds of any kind increased.
Become an Entertainer
Likewise, to become a popular golf trick shot artist, you must develop your confidence working with crowds, interacting with different personalities, asking questions, and molding each performance to the unique audience in each show. If you can do that, you can begin to get bookings and make money from your talent. Like any area of entertainment, you must start small, perhaps that local courses and small groups, get some experience and testimonials. From there you can approach bigger tournaments, corporate outings and other more lucrative markets to grow your income and expand your customer base.
Keep in mind that there is a reason they call it show business. Your golf trick shots are the entertainment side. You must be talented, entertaining, engaging, good with people. You have to be able to have good timing, elicit laughs and make your client happy they hired you. On the other hand, it is a business. You have to keep good books, pay taxes on time, develop business by direct mail or cold calling, build your reputation online and through social media, shoot and upload videos to develop buzz, and much more. While golf trick shot artist have an envious career of playing golf and making people smile, it is also a business that requires commitment and hard work. Although it is possible to make money, perhaps the best reward is evidenced by a message that a young golfer sent Chris Hoch’s after viewing one of his videos. He told him that he makes golf fun. In today’s high-stakes, high pressure world of international golf stars competing for millions of dollars, sometimes fun seems left out.
Joy and Fun of the Game
You can be that conduit to promoting the enjoyment of the game. You might look at it as your mission: to bring smiles back to people’s faces, reduce their stress on the golf course and show them that they will play even better if they learn to relax. By taking the game too seriously, the lose focus. They can return to what brought them to the sport in the first place — fun, spending time with friends, getting exercise and fresh air, and enjoying some of the most beautiful outdoor expenses of greenery and beauty ever seen. You can help golfers find what they may have lost. When you look out in your audience and see the laughter that you are building with your golf trick shot show, you’ll know that you made the right decision. It’s more than hitting some crazy golf trick shots. It’s returning golfers to the core of the game. The joy, the beauty of the sport, and the childlike innocence that we all had when we first began to play this incredibly wonderful sport. When you become a golf trick shot artist, you create this great energy. Today’s young golf trick shots artists are doing their part to bring fun back into the game.