Two-thousand and eleven, man. Different times. Obama in his rookie season. Oprah still on network TV. Charlie Sheen winning. Pro golf looked different, too. Charl Schwartzel in a green coat, Darren Clarke the Champion Golfer, Martin Kaymer and Luke Donald among your revolving door of world No. 1s. But anyone who knows the game knows that it was, in fact, another quartet of players who owned 2011: Ben Crane, Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler.
The Golf Boys.
If you’ve read this far, chances are you accounted for at least a dozen of the 8.4 million views the Golf Boys’ stunning debut single, Oh oh oh, has accumulated on YouTube. (For the uninitiated, this would be an apt time to acquaint yourself.) Crane in a crash helmet. Mahan, bearded and furred. Rickie in leather. Bubba in overalls, tufts of dark, curly chest hair exposed. All of them pitchy and rhythmically challenged but so damn invested in the creative process that it hardly mattered.
“Smash bang, you gotta hit the ball far,” Fowler raps tonelessly but without a whiff of reservation. “Then the crowd goes woooo and you hear the oo-la-la-li-la-li.”
All these years later the video is still a lot to digest. In the realm of PGA Tour player-produced content, there’s been nothing quite like it since. Phil’s dance moves? Not in the same class. Bryson’s Twitch streams? Sorry. SB2K? C’mon now. The Golf Boys stand alone, partly for the production’s rawness and song’s catchiness, but mostly for the players’ vulnerability and buy-in. For two glorious minutes, four brand-name pros broke free from the shackles of agents, sponsors and all the other tightly scripted elements of elite professional golf and put themselves out there — more or less on a whim.
A decade later, questions linger. How did the players shelve their egos, suppress external (and internal) pressures and pull off such an outrageous collaboration? Who wrote the lyrics, managed the choreography and selected the now-iconic outfits? How did the Golf Boys become the Golf Boys, and could such a phenomenon happen again in 2021?
Here, in the Golf Boys’ own words, is their story.
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