Jon Daly is not John Daly. Adam Scott is not Adam Scott. Those two facts are probably the most important to know before digging into the interview below. If you’re a golfer or a fan of watching golf on television, know that the below interview was not conducted with John Daly, the professional golfer known for his massive drives, wild style and winning the PGA Championship and British Open, among other professional tournaments, in the ’90s. Adam Scott, as referenced here, is not the Adam Scott who won the Master three years ago. No, these are actors who share names with some of the PGA’s most famous and talented players, and they’re ready to take back their names in the most obvious way imaginable: by playing golf.
Okay, so maybe it’s not that obvious, but the first in what Daly hopes will become an annual “Adult Swim Golf Classic” does pit Daly and Scott against each other in a faux documentary set in the ’60s and based off of old televised golf matches held for charity. The only trick is that while obviously these actors weren’t even alive when the match is supposedly being played, the two really were playing for actual charities and they really were competing. So, to sum up, Jon Daly, the actor, and Adam Scott, the actor, dressed up like the famous golfers whose names they share to play a real, competitive round of golf and donate the proceeds to real, functioning charities, but made it look like the match took place 50 years prior.
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Got it? Then you’re ready for Daly’s explanation of how it all went down, why it happened the way it did, his hopes for the future of the special and why he really, really wanted to beat Adam Scott. But first, a failed attempt by this writer to get the improv veteran to answer some questions in character.
To start off with, I just wanted to ask you a couple of questions more from the character’s perspective, like you were in character as John Daly, the golfer.
Oh sure, yeah.
I didn’t want to put you on the spot or anything, but I thought it might be fun for readers to get into?
Oh sure, yeah, yeah. [laughs] I hope I don’t say anything inaccurate.
Who introduced you to the game and when did you start playing?
Who introduced me to the game? [brief pause] I don’t think I can do this because I have some spotty fact knowledge of John Daly’s real upbringing. [laughs] I love this idea, but I don’t think I can do it. I’m so sorry! I don’t want to derail it, but I don’t want John to hate me. I really do want to, on the record, reach out to him, hopefully have him be in the next special. He’s having a real, huge comeback. He’s having a “30 for 30” comeback. He’s got a film, documentary on him at the Tribeca Film Festival right now. He started a champions tour. He’s really having a moment, so hopefully he wants to add doing the next hopefully golf special to that, playing himself as me.
If that were to happen, who would you play in the special? How would you be involved?
I believe that it would be very interesting to see him play himself. Him as himself playing me as myself, would be a very interesting combination. We could switch identities, struggling with demons, and also just keep it fun and have a blast!
How much of this character was based on the actual golfer John Daly and how much of it was just you having fun with the similar names?
It’s definitely based on John Daly. I did dye my hair platinum blonde, which is very painful. I would never recommend it to anybody. In that way, I was very John Daly. We definitely share a hair color. As far as getting into his psyche, other than the kind of public faux pas/golfing antics that he has engaged with over the past 30 years, I am kind of playing a version of the myth of John Daly. Consciously and unconsciously, he’s developed a myth about himself. It’s kind of like playing Paul Bunyan. You can guess at to what he’s really like, but the reality is that you’re just playing a myth, a man, a legend.
You have to put a bit of yourself on top of that. It’s partially me as myself. All the information and history of John Daly is obviously what I’m really playing. My desire is to add to the mythology of John Daly because he is this kind of Paul Bunyan, John Henry working class golfer who made good. He doesn’t play by the rules. He speaks his mind. He doesn’t mind indulging his vices while he does his job, and that’s fascinating. It’s all about the legend.
It sounds like you’ve done a little bit of research on Daly, but I was curious about your background with golf and with him in particular. Are you an avid golfer? Do you follow his career or is that just something you dug into for the part?
I’ve followed his career since I was 11 years old. He kind of came out, won the British Open, and my dad was always really into golf. I was more of a hockey player. My dad introduced me to golf because John Daly was the first famous person who had my name. I really got into him as a kid, and then, when I realized he was pretty funny, I got really into him. I started loving him. He’s just lovable! He doesn’t care about the formality and all the B.S. of golf. He is a really genuinely off-the-cuff kind of funny person. He seems like a great guy to get beer with.
When I was becoming a comedian, and Google searches started to matter. I would google myself. My name is spelled “Jon Daly,” and his is spelled “John Daly.” His search was taking up 90 percent of my Google search. I made this website called jondalyisjohndaly.com. I went on the golf course with a photographer, got into makeup and made myself into John Daly. I bought a bunch of Loudmouth clothes and made myself look as much like him as I possibly could. I took some candid shots in order to kind of subversively take over his SEO. Now, if you Google “John Daly,” there are images of him and there are images of me as him mixed in. That was the first kind of thing I did with John Daly.
It’s not really from a love of golf. I do like golf and I play a couple times a year. I’m too bad at golf to really have fun yet. I need to get better at it in order to really appreciate it because right now, all it is is just pure frustration and darkness when I play because I’m so bad. I definitely am obsessed with televised golf, naturally what the special is about, specifically classic televised golf.
One of the things I thought was incredibly funny was the idea that both of these golfers are so bad. They’re just not good. They’re like 56 over par on, admittedly, a very hard course. That speaks to something about why we watch golf, and why we watch professional golf.
There’s a wonderful show called “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf,” which heavily inspired the special. It’s a show from the ’60s and ’70s. You realize that there are a lot of terrible shots in golf, and you just don’t see them. They don’t broadcast those shots. There’s a lot of crap out there and you kind of see that in “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf” because it’s painting this human portrait of these golfers. You see them in the rough, you see them hit into the water. How many times do you see Phil Mickelson hit into the water? Very rarely because it happens rarely, but it does happen.
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We’re filming this at Trump National, which is ranked Top 5 for difficulty; one of the most difficult courses in the world. Even as bad as we are at golf, we’re playing one of the top courses in the world and trying to make it all work. It was paramount to shoot this as a documentary with us really competing. We’re really competing during this game. This is us really trying to win and playing for charity. So the money for this goes to Save the Children and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. In order to make it a real game, we had these charities, we gave real money and as bad as we are, we really were trying to beat each other. What you see in the documentary is not fake. That is our sincerest attempt to be good. We’re not trying to be bad. If even we tried to be bad, it would look bad. We’re trying to be good and so it just looks like pure frustration, and it’s kind of a metaphor for the frustration of the game of golf in general. It’s always an uphill climb, you’re never perfect. You’re only as good as your last game.
So, just to be clear, were the scores on the show actually what you guys were shooting?
Yes, those are actually what we were shooting. We had real scorekeepers and real referees and real caddies. The caddies are actors, but they’re also actors who are semi-professional golfers/caddies. Everything about it is authentic golf. Adam [Scott] and I only had to worry about going out there and playing our best.
How did you nail down your outfit for this? Was this actually John Daly’s clothing? I can’t remember, does he actually have a clothing line? I feel like he did at some point, like he had a pair of pants or something that were “his.”
John Daly is heavily associated with Loudmouth clothing. It’s very bright. You got the American flag pants and oversized hound shoes. Those pants are a parody of the real golf style that emerged in the 1960s which is a little bit eccentric and fun — old men with heavily checkered, argyle socks; goofy golf shoes and too much style. We’re wearing authentic versions of 1960s, all vintage ’60s golf clothes. Our costume designer got golf clothes for everybody on the course. The thing that John Daly wears on the golf course are just parodies of what they wore in the in 1960s.
That’s kind of a nice, meta-stroke: A parody of a golf classic but wearing the actual, vintage clothing of the golfers.
It’s an infinity joke.
Very well put. Backtracking a little bit, how did this thing get started? Who approached who about the special? How did it develop?
I wanted to do something else with the idea of “John Daly” and identity. I did this movie called “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” with Ben Stiller and Adam Scott. We were working and I was talking about my John Daly project, and he said he had a similar problem with Adam Scott’s Google search. So that was it. I just said we should do a thing where we play golf and that was kind of how it started. Then the ’60s thing came later and a lot of the other stuff. Basically, I came up with the idea and then two-and-a-half years later we were shooting it.
You mentioned earlier that you’d like to do another one and bring the real John Daly into play here. Do you have more ideas to kind of extend this into a longer thing?
Oh yeah. I would love to keep playing golf. Doing an annual golf special would just make my life so insane that I just don’t think I can not do that. It’s just such a ridiculous thing to do. I’m speaking in jarbles, but I would love to do this among other things.
How competitive was it when you came down to the end? Did you guys want a rematch?