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Watch Tania Tare turn the American Century Championship range into a trick-shot symposium

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You probably know Tania Tare from Instagram. She's Houdini with a golf ball instead of straight jacket. She's a killer all-round golfer and the reigning queen of trick shots and this week at the American Century Championship, the 18Birdies ambassador could be found on the range pulling off her typical V1 voodoo with some of the best athletes on earth. In between sessions with the likes of Robbie Gould and T.J. Oshie, we caught up with Tare to talk her trick shot process, overall game, and how professional athletes adapt to the weird, wild word of trick shots.

On the process of creating a new trick shot:

TT: The hardest thing with trick shots for me is coming up with new stuff. I feel like there’s only so much you can do with a golf club. I’ve tried to create new juggles and stuff, but I don’t know if I’m not fast enough or not strong enough, but I can't really flip the club that quick. Also a lot of them are kind of dangerous. If you’re trying to double flip a club or something and you miss it and the grip comes at you, I’ll just. [laughs]

A lot what I do now is try to incorporate other things I like into golf trick shots. So I’ve done like a skateboarding trick and a snowboarding trick. I don’t really have an exact process, but I do try to incorporate things that I like. I like snowboarding. I happen to have a friend to who is pro snowboarder, so we did that snowboard trick. I like skateboarding too, though I don’t really do it so much anymore. I’ve added in a lot of soccer juggling trick because I like to play soccer as well.

That’s kind of where it comes from, but now I’m at this point where I’ve incorporated all of the things that are easy to incorporate, so I need to think of new stuff and, to be honest, I’ve been pretty lazy about it recently. But it’s in my head. I’ll be walking around and a lightbulb will go off. I’ll be like “I need to go try that and see if works.” Then I just go wing it.

On how the American Century Championship celebs handled her trick shots:

TT: What I realized is that a lot of the people I did stuff with today are all athletes from other sports, so I feel like naturally athletes have the ability to find the ball and chase it. I’ve done stuff with people who are just golfers for example—who aren’t multi-sport athletes—and I think they just struggle with adapting quickly. But when I toss a ball to an athlete who has played hockey or something, it’s different.

There were a couple of guys I did some shots with today and they just smoked it out of the air. I’ve literally never—until today—tossed a ball to someone and they just pured it out of the air first try. My mind was blown when that happened. But then in my head, I was like “I feel like that’s the athlete in them.” They just adapt on the spot. They just swing after it and chase it. Everyone always asks me how I hit the ball out of the air like I do, and I always say “I just look at it and chase after it,” because that’s what they do.

On the trick shots Instagram can’t get enough of:

TT: I feel like a lot people like the cup tricks, because everyone likes to play beer pong [laughs]. But for me, cup tricks are the most tedious and the most difficult. They take the longest on average. It’s just so hard. For example, if I’m trying to hit a ball into a hole, I don’t have to be perfect with it. I might hit it short and get the right break or I might hit it too hard and it will hit the pin and go in. But with a cup trick, if you’re not perfectly in the cup, it just doesn’t work. That’s why I find them so hard but so satisfying to finish.

I’ve also noticed that a lot people just love to see you hit it out of the air. Those for me are actually a lot easier—I can pull them off a lot quicker. It's also a fun thing for everyone. I feel like every golfer has tried to hit out of the air just to try it but it’s actually a lot harder than it looks like. The club face is this big [international gesture for small], the golf ball is tiny, you have to figure out the angle of the club, and where it’s going to go. It’s tough.

On tricks shots helping (or hurting) her game:

TT: This is kind of funny because a lot of people ask me this stuff. They’re like “oh trick shots are ruining your golf game, this is why you’re not on the Tour.” All of this stuff like that. So I get that crap, but I also get people who ask me if it helps, and I personally do not think it hinders your game. The only thing I think could hinder my game is if I just stood there and hit 100 balls out of the air in a row and I started swinging over the top or something like that.

But I feel like even that would take more than 100 balls. It would take weeks and weeks of doing that before it affected my swing in any way. Apart from that, I think it made me way more creative. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to hit a left handed shot on the course. Thankfully, because I do those left-handed, upside-down shots, I kind of have the gist of it, so I think it helps. It helps my feel a lot too.