As ESPN gets ready to bring fans unprecedented coverage of the PGA Championship next week, the first episode of America’s Caddie, a new ESPN+ series hosted by former pro caddie, comedian and ESPN senior golf analyst Michael Collins, debuted today.
Front Row asked ESPN+ Originals producer Torey Champagne, who is leading the series production along with co-producer Luke Williams, to talk about the show.
How did the idea for the show come about?
ESPN’s partnership with the PGA gives us an amazing opportunity to create something new for golf fans. When you have someone like Michael Collins, who has a tremendous amount of insight from his days as a professional caddie and brings a passion for the game complemented by his uncanny sense of humor, it just made total sense to have Michael hosting his own show. [SVP and Editor-At-Large, ESPN Content} Rob King encouraged us to collaborate with Michael about the concept, and it quickly became clear the show was going to be a unique and fun experience for PGA fans on ESPN+.
It looks like you had a lot of fun shooting the open for the show, after having to postpone for a few months. What was that like?
We wanted to create a show open highlighting Michael’s personality – colorful, fun, and larger than life. Visually we felt the open should set the tone that this is not your typical golf show. We wanted it to scream Michael Collins is America’s Caddie! It was a fantastic day of filming with Michael in which we utilized red, white, and blue smoke effects on an empty golf course to create a high energy, stylized open. We were all really excited to see it come to life.
How could you not love Michael Collins?! Being a well-respected fixture on the PGA Tour for several years as a caddie, Michael’s interactions with the pros show that he’s truly considered one of them. – Producer Torey Champagne regarding Michael Collins
It seems everyone on the Tour knows Michael and vice versa. Is he genuinely buddies with everyone?
How could you not love Michael Collins?! Being a well-respected fixture on the PGA Tour for several years as a caddie, Michael’s interactions with the pros show that he’s truly considered one of them. The first episode of America’s Caddie reflects that with guests like Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy joining in on the fun, and providing some tremendous insight into the current state of the PGA.
Collins’ interviewing style is personal and familiar, with a lot of energy. How has the pandemic affected the way you capture and utilize Collins’ method?
In unprecedented times like these, it was important to Michael and all of us at ESPN+ to make sure America’s Caddie not only provided an in-depth look at the PGA Championship but would give the fans a viewing experience that was fun and engaging. And while there were hurdles due to the pandemic, that didn’t affect Michael’s ability to be Michael! He’s a fun guy. That’s just who he is.
In just a few hours… AMERICA’S CADDIE comes to ESPN+!!! I promise this golf show is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. pic.twitter.com/sUR8uRKc9Y
— Michael Collins (@ESPNCaddie) July 29, 2020
America’s Caddie can be described as a “road show” at a time when traveling around the country can be difficult. How is your team dealing with that?
Safety has been our number one concern for all of our productions, and fortunately, we’re able to find creative ways to bring the show to life and keep everyone safe on location. The show open is a great example of a creative approach in which we were able to film Michael in a socially distant and COVID-safe environment outdoors, while still executing the creative concept. It really is a testament to everyone involved caring about each other’s well-being, and working together as a team to do our due diligence to keep everyone safe before we rolled cameras.
Read more about Collins and America’s Caddie in Variety.