GOLFTV’s “The Challenge: Japan Skins” will take place on a Japanese golf course on Monday, but the new event got quite the introduction in a Japanese classroom. Well, sort of.
In case you haven’t seen The Challenge’s promo in which HIdeki Matsuyama teaches his three opponents—Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Jason Day—a bit of Japanese, let’s start there. The entertaining clip contains plenty of classroom hijinks, good-natured ribbing, and even some valuable knowledge for those planning on playing golf in Japan. Check it out:
But what if we told you this wasn’t actually shot in a Japanese classroom—or even in Japan? And then what if we told you these four PGA Tour stars were never even in the same room at the same time? Hideki, how do you say “optical illusion” in Japanese?
The visual trickery becomes a little more clear in this hilarious blooper real from the shoot:
The spot was part of a series of promos for the made-for-TV competition that were shot during the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship in August. And it was filmed in a ballroom at Medinah Country Club across four separate sessions with each of the golfers. To execute the production, GOLFTV, which along with Golf Digest is part of Discovery, hired Above Average, a digital entertainment studio most known for producing “Saturday Night Live” shorts, and which also worked with Golf Digest on a fun 2017 project that imagined turning Central Park into a 36-hole golf course. So, yeah, they’re as good at being creative as Rory is at hitting a driver.
Combined with a script written by GOLFTV’s Jamie Kennedy, fill-in and translation work from Shimon Hoizumi, who manages GOLFTV Tokyo office, and assistance from PGA Tour Entertainment and Medinah, Above Average, under the guidance of president Marc Lieberman and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Matt Luem, pulled it all off. Of course, getting the golfers to deliver solid acting performances went a long way as well.
“It was a real collaborative effort. Matt has a nice touch getting subjects to have fun and buy into an idea, and the guys enjoyed it,” Lieberman said. “The production accomplishments we’re most proud of were those little details like knocking off Rory’s hat to make it seem like they were all in the same room. In a perfect scenario you have everyone all together, but we were happy with the final product.”
Of course, the final final product will be the competition itself. But if Monday’s event is anything close to being as entertaining as its promos, golf fans are in for a treat.