You might know Ben Crane best from his YouTube videos, in which he speeds up his pace of play by donning Rollerblades and being towed by a golf cart; raps about barely qualifying for the FedEx Cup playoffs ("I'm a bubble boy/buh-buh-bubble boy"); and shares his mental-game secrets, Golf in the Kingdom–style ("I experience zone. I'm speaking to you from the now, in the middle of the now.") Crane also croons with his fellow Golf Boys bandmates Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson (with lyrics by Mat Kearney, the singer-songwriter who, like Crane, hails from Oregon). But the 37-year-old funnyman also has an intense side. You've heard of the 10,000 hours it takes to master a pursuit? Crane has logged 35,000 hours honing his game. (He counted.) If you think that's odd, consider that Crane believes he's no more innately talented at golf than you are. The main reason he chose this career path was because as a kid he could beat his five buddies. The Tour's biggest ham talks about the 100 percent commitment required to excel at both golf and comedy, his infamously slow pace of play, and why he won't let the bad back that knocked him out of the 2013 FedEx Cup playoffs diminish his enthusiasm -- or his sense of humor.
In the media center after you won the 2010 Farmers Insurance Open, you broke into an impersonation of your southern-fried, former-college-football-coach agent Tommy Limbaugh. It got quite a laugh, even among the cynical press. Was that when you realized you could bring your act to a wider audience?
It's been a slow progression, no pun intended, where things have just worked. The more you show your personality, the more fun everyone else has. I'm watching tennis last night, I'm watching Rafael Nadal play a guy, and it was 6-0 in the first set, and in the second set the guy is just trying to score a point. He finally thought he scored one; they did the shot-spot thing, and it was out by an inch. It was the moment where he should have gone, like, What do I gotta do to score a point against this Nadal guy? But he didn't. Athletes get so stuck in competition sometimes that we just can't let go of it.
Has your game improved since you've been expressing this lighter side?
Well, 2010 and 2005 were my best years, but it's been a battle with my body. I have a lot more potential now, and I have a bigger team around me. Instead of no one following me, now I'll have friends who are following me, and sometimes they'll walk up to a random person and say, "Who are you following?" In a few cases the person has said, "Ben Crane. He's my favorite player." And my friend will go, "Why?" And the kid will say, "You don't know? You don't know about the videos?" [Laughs] That is so fun right there.
Your fans definitely get your sense of humor. When your caddie decided to take a day off on a Wednesday, and you told people to apply on Twitter for the one-day job to replace him, you got interesting responses, like, "I have a rough tongue like a cat and can clean the grooves of a wedge in seconds. My tics are mostly silent."
[Laughs] That deserves to be written somewhere in this magazine! That is so good. We've opened up the job twice, actually. We did it at the Byron Nelson and at the Travelers. For the Nelson, we found a guy who had played in college. It was his birthday. And for the Travelers, we did it for a cause called Charity: Water, and the guy bid a couple of thousand bucks. He was awesome. We really hit it off.
Do you think most Tour pros could stand to loosen up?
I don't think, I know. I mean, I'm very serious between the ropes at times, especially when it's not going well. I can feel like I can't let myself have a good time. But guys need to pick their chin up a little bit and look around. Dude, you're on the PGA Tour! You've probably dreamed about this since you were a kid. It's so fun. I don't care if you just made double; you have the opportunity to look at a kid and throw him a ball and make his day. I try to remember that.
You show full comedic commitment in your spoof videos, which you have to do to make them work. Your wardrobe gets laughs, too. Where did the helmet come from? In the video where you offer exercise tips, it's a crucial prop, along with the unitard.
My buddy went to Goodwill and found it. I was like, "What is this thing?" It's a low-end ski helmet. I never picked up on that until the fifth video. That whole outfit is like five bucks at Good-will. It's awful. It's so tight. It doesn't breathe. It would be great in the Oregon fall, for surfing.
Who are your favorite comedians? Have you seen Borat?
I have not seen Borat. Honestly, the stuff that Joel [Stock], my caddie, and I have seen -- he has a great sense of humor and a great memory for funny lines -- would be "Coming to America," "Spies Like Us," "Caddyshack" and "Dumb and Dumber."
What about "The Hangover"?
Yeah. A little crude, but...
It was structured smartly.
Right. Kind of like "Life of Pi." At the end you go, "Ah, now it makes sense."
What was the last movie you saw?
Unfortunately, "Planes." It was a big letdown. "Shrek" was amazing. "Cars" was amazing. "Planes" was not. And "Finding Nemo" was great.
You have three kids, so it's obvious who's picking the movies. What TV shows do you watch?
You know, I'm trying to think if I've turned on the TV this year for something other than sports. I watched the Bible documentary. When you have three kids under 6, you have to ask, am I going to space out on the couch for an hour and a half, or am I going to hang out with my kids? When your kids are grown up and out of the house, everyone says, "It happened so fast. I wish they were back."
Musician Mat Kearney helped with the lyrics on Golf Boys 2.0 and the Bubble Boy video, which poked fun at you for being 125th on the money list at the Barclays. Which video took the longest to make?
Golf Boys 2.0 was six weeks of talking to the production crew and doing some of the writing with Kearney, and giving feedback and stuff. The shoot only took two days, but afterward, editing and stuff, it was a couple of months. We shot it at Vaquero here in Dallas.
Did everyone stay at your house?
They did, except for Hunter, who lives here. Bubba bought my daughter her first Elmo. He's awesome with kids. And Rickie was on the floor rolling around with them. It was funny; we were driving to the course and one of Kearney's songs came on the radio. I was sitting there thinking, What do you do when you're sitting right next to a guy whose song is on the radio? Do you sing along?