For our latest mission, we turned a mini-golf course into a major golf championship. We surprised random mini-golfers with caddies, commentators, an ESPN camera crew, and a huge crowd. The “winner” was presented with the actual Claret Jug from The Open Championship. We surprised several groups throughout the day, appearing out of nowhere each time.
Enjoy the video first and then go behind the scenes with our report below.
Shot by: ESPN with additional coverage by Matt Adams.
Photography: Brian Fountain (photo set), Arin Sang-urai (photo set)
Commentators: Charlie Todd, Alex Scordelis, and Jorge Andres
Caddies: Pat Cassels, Johnathan Fernandez, Birch Harms, Rob Lathan
Official: Neil Casey
Winner’s Wife and Son: Harriet and Robert Gilmer
pre-mission meeting point
Ever since our Best Game Ever mission, I’ve thought about doing a sequel with golf. Since it would be entirely too dangerous to have a gallery show up on an actual golf course where amateurs have way less control over the ball than professionals, a mini-golf course would work perfectly. As an added benefit, much like our Carousel Horse Race mission, we would have kids as the star players. Last summer Connor Arras emailed me with this exact idea and pointed out that a new mini-golf course had recently been opened in Lower Manhattan on the newly created Pier 25 (which was one of the starting points of The Mp3 Experiment Eight.)
The Claret Jug
I had the idea on the back burner until I got an email from ESPN asking if I would want to do something with the historic Claret Jug from The Open Championship (often referred to as the British Open.) The jug was going to be in New York on a publicity tour in advance of the championship and ESPN wanted to offer it to me as a prop in a mission, giving me creative control to do with it whatever I wanted to. They loved the mini-golf idea, and agreed to produce the video with all of their awesome camera equipment, making the whole thing more epic in scale. This jug, by the way, is not a replica, but the actual jug made in 1928 that has been held by all of the Open champions since. It came with its own security guard.
From left, Agents Rob Lathan, Johnathan Fernandez, Birch Harms, Pat Cassels
ESPN worked with the Royal & Ancient golf association and got them to provide us with caddy bibs, “quiet” signs, and a flag, making the whole thing more authentic. Pier 25 gave us permission to use their course, which made it possible to set up fancy cameras, etc.
The gallery hiding around the corner
I decided it would be most effective to take over one hole on the course rather than try to spread out all over. I picked a hole that was situated right on the corner of the course, which made it possible for a gallery to stand on two sides of the fence. The hole had a couple of other advantages as well. It was a particularly fun design, and it had a huge waterfall rock next to it, which enabled our crew to hide out of view of the approaching players. Once everyone was in their hiding place, we waited for a group to finish up on the hole before, and then our actors and crew arrived just as the players were approaching.
Moving into place from behind the rock
Caddies introducing themselves to players
“I’m your caddy. What’s your name?”
We surprised five groups of golfers throughout the day. The first group was a father and son, Chris, pictured above.
We put the commentators desk just a few feet from the hole. Everyone, including the players, could hear our commentary. Agent Alex Scordelis joined me on color commentary. You might remember Alex from his commentary work on Carousel Horse Race or as the co-author of the Improv Everywhere book.
Agent Neil Casey played the official from the R&A who quieted the crowd, made rulings, and presented the jug to the winner. You might recognize Neil from his work in our Mobile Desktop mission.
Agent John Swan brought some binoculars
Aidan tees off while his sister Brianna watches
Brianna’s dad helps her with her putt
Adian sinks the winning putt
Agent Harriet Gilmer shows up as Aidan’s wife
Aidan and the (very heavy) Claret Jug
While Alex and I only have experience commentating for Improv Everywhere sports-related pranks, we had an actual ESPN personality, Jorge Andres, on hand to do interviews with the players.
Surprising Cal and Max as their mother laughs
Agent Birch Harms shows Max the break
Rob Wants. To Give You. A High Five.
The video doesn’t show much from one group we surprised. It was an eightsome with seven adults and one kid. Since the group was so large it took them forever to play the hole, and unfortunately the one kid was too shy to get into it. They were all really nice though. The above picture shows the winner, William, receiving a hug from his “wife” while another player, Noah, laughs. The wife bit was probably the funniest part each time. William was the only player older than his wife, but it was still really funny. Agent Gilmer’s son, Robert, 2, was there for the last couple of groups, making it even funnier.
Alex tees off
The final group ended up being the focus of the video. They were great, and the two older brothers were old enough to really get into it.
Mom and dad laughing
Max lines up his putt
The ball roles around the cup
And goes in!
I made a gif of Isaac’s winning putt dropping in the hole.
Isaac with the Claret Jug
All in all it was a great day on the course. It was super exciting to get to work with ESPN and use the actual Claret Jug that so many golf legends have held above their heads.
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