Ian Poulter is known for his flamboyant style on and off the course, but no one could have prepared him for the fashion statement he made last week.
“This is a TwitPic if I have ever seen one,” said Poulter, who has more than 1.2 million Twitter followers.
Poulter was reacting to seeing himself in a mirror as he was being outfitted for a motion-capture session with EA Sports in Orlando, Fla.
The new wardrobe: A form-fitting black suit with tons of motion-capture balls all over his body, green shoes (more like black shoes covered by green duct tape) and a “sock cap” that instantly gave the Englishman a bad-hair day.
“All I need is a Velcro wall and a trampoline,” Poulter said.
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Poulter was one of two international golf stars who visited the motion-capture studios at the University of Central Florida’s downtown campus, being joined by Italy’s Edoardo Molinari. They were giving developers of the EA Sports Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’13 a chance to capture the golfers’ authentic swings for the game slated to be released in the first half of 2012.
“It takes quite some time and physical effort (to go through the session),” Molinari said. “I thought I would just swing the club five or six times. Then it took me 40 minutes of swinging the clubs every 20 seconds. It was like having a practice session back on the driving range.”
Poulter and Molinari gave Golfweek exclusive interviews after the sessions. Here are five questions about the video game’s authenticity, the importance of the game’s franchise in the growth of the overall game and what each might do to improve the game.
How has the Tiger Woods video-game franchise changed the game of golf, or has it?
Poulter: “I think the game is huge. The addition of Augusta National, I think, is massive. Lots of people don’t get to play that golf course. I am one of the lucky few to be in the top 50 to get invited to play each year. It allows people — not just with Augusta, but St. Andrews and many other courses in the world that they can’t travel to — to play golf (on those courses). They get real-life experience by playing those courses in the game.”
Molinari: “In Italy, golf is not a big sport. But, I have to say, after being in the video game, there are a lot more people coming at me, especially young kids, asking for autographs or (asking) if that is me in the game. It is good. A lot of kids play PlayStation, XBox and are playing EA Sports video games. I think it is good for kids to play with guys like me and other players. I think it will help.”
If you could add your own feature to the game, what would you do?
Poulter: “I think it’d be quite fun to add some car keys into the game. Grab a set of car keys, go into the parking lot, see which of the players are in the game, see which cars are in the parking lot. (Then) let’s take those for a little spin on the course. Play with buggies and stuff like that. That would be funny.”
Molinari: “(I would) make the wind blow a lot. Sometimes in Scotland, we’ll play with 60 mile-per-hour winds. That would be a nice feature in the games.”
How important are these motion-capture sessions? How much authenticity does it add?
Poulter: “I grew up playing golf, always watching how people swung the golf club, whether it was (Nick) Faldo or Seve (Ballesteros). Kids pick up on that quickly. So when people (feel how) you swing the golf club, they can relate that back to how they want to go and swing the golf club. They can practice that on the golf course.”
Molinari: “The fact that next year there will be much more swings, it is a great addition to the game. You will be able to see how different players swing their clubs. (The motion-capture session) covers every swing in (my) game.”
How have you used the game? With your kids? In preparation for a tournament?
Poulter: “I loved playing games as a kid. To be in the game is really cool. For my kids to play me in the game is really cool. They change around (with what players they play with). I play as me. Why would I want to be anyone else?”
Molinari: “I’ve used it many times (in preparation for a tournament) — before the Masters, especially. The greens and areas around the greens are so accurately designed; it was great practice before the tournament. TPC Sawgrass, as well. I will be playing Atlanta Athletic Club to get ready for the PGA Championship.”
What are you looking for out of yourself at the U.S. Open?
Poulter: “I am wanting to play as well as I played at Augusta, hoping to putt a bit better. I was holing a few putts at the Volvo Match Play (which he won by beating Luke Donald), so I hope to carry that form into the U.S. Open.”
Molinari: “I’ve never played Congressional before (in a tournament). I was there on Monday (June 6), and it looks good to me. I like a difficult course. It suits my game very nicely. The changes (to Congressional) are very clever and will be very popular. The front nine is OK, not too difficult. Once you step on the 10th tee, from then to the 18th, it is a battle against par. Even par on the back nine for the week and you have a chance to win the U.S. Open.”