Chip Hoch was on the range at LPGA International at Daytona Beach a few weeks ago, preparing for a tournament. Just on the range, hitting balls, slightly bored. Then his dad had an idea.
"I used to do this thing when I played Little League baseball where my dad would stand behind me and throw a ball, and I'd hit it out into the field," Hoch said. "We wanted to try it with a golf club. I thought it would make a good video."
In the next two days Hoch posted two videos to his Vine account -- that one, and another of him juggling Tiger Woods-style then hitting the ball.
Since posting them on January 20th and 21st, the two videos have gathered almost 45,000 revines and more than 65,000 likes. He started another account, Golf Vines, and posted another video from there a few days later. He kept posting, and in the three weeks since he started the account, Golf Vines is up to nearly 50,000 followers. Hoch's own account is up to nearly 240,000.
"It was pretty cool," Hoch said of his videos. "They just kind of took off."
The idea for these sort of viral videos started while Hoch was a student at Florida Atlantic University, when he teamed up with friend Eric Dunn for a series of comical sketches that they pushed out on YouTube and Twitter. Dunn's account grew to more than 105,000 followers on Twitter and another 90,000 more on YouTube as a result.
Hoch has since left FAU, relinquishing his spot on the golf team to try his hand at professional golf (so far, he's made one cut in six events on the Florida Professional Golf Tour), but he remains active in social media both professionally and as a hobby.
Aside attending the University of Central Florida, his hometown school, Hoch helps local companies use social media to grow their businesses. The money he makes from that goes towards paying entry fees for the tournaments he plays -- a role he hopes one day a sponsor will fill.
But right now, it's mostly about making trick videos -- making them for fun, and for exposure, and just because. Whatever the reason, the Internet doesn't seem to mind.
"A lot of people see golf as a boring, slow paced, un-athletic sport," Hoch said. "I'm trying to make it fun and different, and to show that it takes a lot of skill."
Just as Picasso had periods to his work, so, it seems, does Hoch.
He may not name them as such, but there was the Ping-Pong table period, the foosball table period, and -- my personal favorite -- the pool table period. Right now, he seems to be in the hitting through things period; it was a gallon of milk last Wednesday, and a laptop on Monday (don't worry, the laptop was broken already).
He gets his ideas mostly from talking with his dad. The two might be watching TV or playing golf when inspiration strikes. All of a sudden, Chip is hitting a ball down a bunch of stairs -- or into his father's stomach, as was the case in one golf trick video gone wrong. Regardless, it makes for great viewing.
"I've started getting a lot of messages from kids who say that I make golf fun," Hoch said. "Hopefully my videos show that golf isn't the same old slow-paced game; that it's something different now."