This week, stray shots aren't the only objects flying through the air at TPC Sawgrass.
Two small remote-controlled helicopters are also buzzing around the course. The mini-copters, created by Ben McClung and Jose Buezas, will take footage for the NBC and Golf Channel television broadcasts, reports Garry Smits of the Florida Times-Union.
It's cheaper than renting a real helicopter, and much more practical. Fans and players noticed O.B. 1 flying over the 18th hole Tuesday but it created only a slight buzzing noise as it flew back and forth from tee-to-green and landed on top of the hill overlooking the 18th tee.
Buezas explained that the TV networks wanted shots with fans and players on the hole. He and McClung had already filmed all 18 holes of the Stadium Course since last June, and have edited two hours of video to 20 minutes of flyover shots.
"We're getting a little attention today," McClung said. "But it's a lot more practical than a real helicopter, and you couldn't land one of those on this hill."
J.J. Henry's New Caddie
In an effort to kick start a disappointing 2012 season, J.J. Henry has a special guest caddying for him this week at TPC Sawgrass: 1996 PGA Champion Mark Brooks. Both pros live in the Fort Worth area, and Brooks has teed it up in 21 Players Championships as a competitor, which Henry hopes will help him this week, reports Brian Wacker at PGATour.com.
“I’ve always looked up to his work ethic and how he’s approached course management,” Henry said. “This course isn’t about how far to it, it’s about where to hit it. There’s probably nobody in the last 20 years who’s been so creative and articulate around these holes than him. For as good a career as he had, he never overpowered golf courses. He always worked his way around them, so to see that perspective is only going to help me.”
Ballybunion Fooled By McIlroy Hoax
Ireland's Ballybunion Golf Club received an unexpected phone call last weekend when Mark O'Meara's agent phoned to set up a tee time for his client and Rory McIlroy. Naturally, this created a lot of buzz at the course. There was just one problem...
Saturday rolled around and everything was in place for O'Meara and McIlroy's arrival. But there was just one problem: The entire phone conversation was part of an elaborate hoax that left course officials feeling silly, and young fans let down.
Well used to VIP visitors, Ballybunion saw nothing amiss and swept into action with their preparations. Extra catering arrangements were made, caddies took precise measurements to ensure their yardages were spot on, and the Old Course was in pristine condition for Rory and his entourage.
Except they never showed -- much to the disappointment of up to 100 young fans, club members and local media who had gathered from 7.30am. Most waited patiently until 11.30 when it became clear that McIlroy was a non-runner.
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