Updated June 1, 2012
By Haley Hirai
Four Oregon golfers huddle nervously out of sight at Howe Field, where Oregon softball is taking on rival Oregon State in front of a packed house. After hiding in their car and devising an escape plan, the boys work up the courage to strip off their sweats and reveal skintight speedsuits, the track team’s uniform of choice.
Led by senior Jack Paton, they jog around the field in a focused, single-file line. Heads turn. People whisper. A few even snap pictures.
This is how the Oregon golf videos were born.
“As soon as we ran in the speedsuits in front of all those people, we were so exhilarated and ready to do the rest of the video right there. If we did that, we could do anything else. You just have to break through,” Paton said.
The video debuted at 2011’s first annual “Showtime,” a student-athlete talent show that raises money for O Heroes, Oregon’s community service and outreach organization. Oregon golf won second place with last season’s video, but this year’s submission took first place in the video category. Nearly all of Oregon’s 17 Division I teams created videos or live performances that helped raise over $2,000 for the O Heroes program and local charities.
Just as the talent show expanded in its second year, the golf team grew out of their initial embarrassment and outdid themselves with this year’s video, “Oregon Men’s Golf 2012: Faster, Stronger, Bigger, Golfer,” which has amassed over 26,000 views on YouTube since its debut in early May.
Paton, 23, and track hurdler Eric Hersey, 22, wanted to produce a video that defied stereotypes other athletes have about golf. The golf team spoofs workout regimens and athleticism all while sporting the track team’s speedsuits.
“We made this video to put golf on the map, not only at Oregon, to show that we’re not just the country club kind of kids that are snobby, or whatever the generalization is for golfers,” Paton said.
To build off their popular first video, Paton and Hersey recruited a cast of well-known Oregon personalities to make cameos, including Chip Kelly, Kenjon Barner, De’Anthony Thomas, Ashton Eaton, Josh Kaddu and athletic director Rob Mullens.
Although the pair personally knew some of the athletes that made guest appearances, they took a chance and just walked into Kelly’s office without ever meeting him before. The face of Oregon’s football program was more than willing to help and even improvised most of his lines.
“He was our best interview. He took it to another level that we weren’t expecting,” Hersey said.
“We just started filming and he started spitting off all these great lines. It was awesome. We were dying behind the camera,” Paton said.
Paton and Hersey spent about 15 days shooting, countless hours editing and about five years brainstorming ideas of funny things they’ve always wanted to film.
Paton, from Hillsborough, Calif., and Hersey, from Los Altos, Calif., grew up about 20 minutes away from each other and first met as dorm neighbors their freshman year.
Now redshirt seniors, the Bay Area natives have remained close friends and are constantly bouncing ideas off each other. A running joke they had about making sweatshirts that said “Peace. Love. Golf,” spiraled into a series of baby pink crewnecks they created just for the video.
Paton wore a sweatshirt that said “Jacktown, USA,” a homage to Eugene, Ore.’s nickname “Tracktown, USA.” Hersey’s continuous jokes about golf not being a “real” sport resulted in a sarcastic sweatshirt bearing the phrase, “Golf is not, not a sport.” Other sweatshirts include “We golfed it all,” and “Just golf it.”
“We just picked out ideas from a huge pool of ideas that we’ve talked about since freshman year. We had always wanted to shoot videos, and the O Heroes talent show was the perfect opportunity and our last chance to finally shoot all the ideas we had,” Hersey said.
Paton completed his degree in political science in the winter and will join the Canadian Tour this summer to begin his professional golf career. Hersey, who likes to joke about becoming Paton’s caddy, is finishing up his first year of law school.
The two friends may be parting ways, but they’ll always have these videos and their memories of dancing in speedsuits and dunking themselves in cold tubs, plus priceless outtakes that never made it onscreen. Paton and Hersey made people pay attention to Oregon golf, because as they say in the video, Oregon golf is a big deal.