THE ORAL HISTORY OF ERNIE ELS’ SEVEN-PUTT
Billy Payne, Masters Chairman: It all started with that doggone cat.
Todd VanDerVoss, Masters Viral Video Coordinator: Billy saw a YouTube video of a cat chasing the world’s largest ball of twine. I don’t know… it doesn’t make sense to me, either. The cat just walks up to it and sort of sniffs at it. But he–Billy, not the cat–called me up, and two days later, I was hired. He told me we needed something for YouTube, something even funnier than a cat chasing the world’s largest ball of twine.
Billy Payne: No one watches The Masters on Thursday. Even the Par 3 Contest gets more viewers, and why do you think that is? The players’ little kids get to run around and look all cute, and sometimes even hit the ball. Athletes from other sports whiff on their tee shots. Women walk the course freely with the napes of their necks uncovered. We needed something even more outrageous and embarrassing.
Hootie Johnson, former Masters Chairman: Apparently there’s some kind of “Internet audience” out there. It’s made up of the young people, like David Duval.
Todd VanDerVoss: Fat guy falling into a water hazard was too easy. We wanted a “Damn, Daniel” parody, but Berger wasn’t having it.
Daniel Berger, golfer and viral video non-participant: No one would ever think my TaylorMade hat was fashionable. Come on now.
Todd VanDerVoss: We eventually decided that the video should be directly related to the tournament action. And then it hit me: the five-putt.
Stephen A. Smith, Esteemed Golf Expert Of Many Years: In golf, a putt is when you try to move the ball from the green to the hole. Two putts is considered average. FIVE putts? THAT is a feat of CRIMINAL proportions.
Todd VanDerVoss: I kept thinking on it, and settled on a much more complex and emotionally nuanced option: the six-putt.
Stephen A. Smith: SIX PUTTS! FELONIOUS! POSITIVELY FELONIOUS!
Todd VanDerVoss: And then, as if delivered by Morpheus himself, it came to me in a dream: the seven-putt.
Stephen A. Smith: HOOBADOOBA! YOU CANNOT SEE THIS BUT MY ARMS ARE FLAILING WILDLY! HOOBADOOBA!
Todd VanDerVoss: It was settled. With visions of our YouTube views rocketing up into the billions, we turned to the task of deciding which poor sap would have to act out this charade.
Phil Mickelson, avid Masters spectator: Thankfully, my contract with KPMG prohibits me from making any mistakes ever.
Ian Poulter, subject of forthcoming biopic starring Steve Coogan: That is such American humor. Our idea of funny is to stand over the ball for 20 minutes and refrain from hitting it. You know, the kind of profound satire that really holds a mirror up to society.
Arnold Palmer, mixologist, AriZona Beverages: It’s Friday! Wait, what was the question?
Todd VanDerVoss: We decided it had to be someone who was famous, but whose chances of winning The Masters wouldn’t actually be affected. Someone whose best days are behind him, but who would still draw an “oh yeah, that guy” from fans.
Vijay Singh, occupation unknown: I would have done it, but they never called.
Todd VanDerVoss: We eventually settled on Ernie Els, the 46-year-old and 218th-ranked Aussie with four major championships under his belt.
Ernie Els, YouTube sensation who sometimes plays golf: I’m South African, actually. Want to see my flag tattoo?
Todd VanDerVoss: Ernie was very skeptical when we first approached him. He’s an independent-minded guy, as most Scotsmen are. He told us he didn’t want to jeopardize his chances of making the cut. Billy just laughed and laughed, right in his face.
Billy Payne: That’s true, I did laugh. Hahahahahahhahaha! It still cracks me up just thinking about it! Making the cut! MAKING! THE! CUT! [Editor’s note: Mr. Payne proceeded to fall out of his chair in a tearful fit of laughter and was unable to continue the interview.]
Ernie Els: I ultimately agreed to do it because I figured it would give me a platform to educate people about the horrors of apartheid and how we can keep history from repeating itself.
Todd VanDerVoss: So, after way too much negotiation, we finally got him on board. He wanted a chance to advertise the new “Swedish phone number” his native country was rolling out. Our perfect viral video was coming together. We set up a piano on the green of the fourth hole, and Bo Burnham was going to debut an original song right as Ernie started putting. After the third missed putt, a baby panda was going to walk out right between Ernie and the hole and start sneezing everywhere. We even flew in Cigar Guy, and we were going to have him stand in the background and make funny faces. It was perfect.
Morgan Freeman, dramatic voiceover guy: The best-laid schemes of mice and men go often askew.
Morgan Freeman, dramatic voiceover guy using his normal voice: We got it? Are you sure that’s what we’re going with? Seems a little corny to me. I’ll try some other lines. You paid for the full hour.
Ernie Els: Fourth hole? Sneezing panda? Todd’s lying, 100 percent. I don’t know what he’s talking about. Just trying to make himself look better than he really is.
Todd VanDerVoss: The plan was to do it on the fourth hole. But then, on the first hole, it just sort of… happened. He wasn’t even trying to do it. He’s just that bad at putting. The Internet got ahold of it, and then everything we had arranged was up in smoke. Ruined. Bo Burnham got upset with us and wrote an angsty song about the whole incident. Cigar Guy left the tournament early to go to Cuba. The panda actually stayed on site and seemed to really be learning a lot about the intricacies of golf… but that’s neither here nor there. Ernie screwed up, lied about it, and now I’m taking the fall. They’re probably going to eliminate my position next year and hire another Sweater-Vest Expert.
Ernie Els: I did exactly as I was told and now I’m being thrown under the bus by golf’s elite. My close personal friend Nelson Mandela is definitely looking down on this with a very stern countenance.
Todd VanDerVoss: I should’ve known better than to rely on Ernie. The whole “ethical Canadians” thing is just a front.
Stephen A. Smith: Me? I don’t know who’s telling the truth. HOWEVER, I do know that Skip Bayless’ opinion on this matter is PREEMINENTLY REPREHENSIBLE! WAZOOOOOOOOO!
Ian Poulter: The United Kingdom has a responsible regulatory environment that would gracefully settle disputes of this nature.
Tiger Woods: It doesn’t really matter whether Ernie’s lying or Todd’s lying. I’m just happy there’s a new market for my skills. I’ve been working hard on my eight-putt and should have it perfected by next April.
Phil Mickelson: What are y’all doing Sunday afternoon? I heard there a mini-golf course just a few miles away where you have to hit the ball into a dinosaur’s mouth!
Morgan Freeman: These are the times that try men’s souls… Seriously, who’s writing this crap?
Dustin Petzold is the editor-in-chief of Crooked Scoreboard. You should follow CSB on Twitter.
Nate Koehler is a cartoonist and illustrator who wishes he could draw more pandas, sneezing or otherwise. You should follow him on Twitter, too.