Alex Horne and John Robins make 'Bad Golf' hilarious

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Bad Golf, the YouTube channel created by TaskMaster's Alex Horne and BBC Radio 5Live's John Robins, has proved a huge hit. We joined the award-winning comedians at The Shire to find out why they broadcast their lack of ability on the golf course to the world...

Watching comedian Alex Horne hole a 90-yard wedge shot, it would be easy to think the ‘Bad Golf’ YouTube channel he created with fellow comic John Robins needs a rebrand.

RELATED: Bad Golf's John Robins: "My foolproof system to break 90"

At least, it would if we hadn’t also witnessed the 6-iron Horne had topped some 60 yards off The Shire’s par-3 12th tee moments earlier... and his quadruple-bogey to lose the previous hole to Robins’ bogey. Channel reputation firmly intact.

Bad Golf's Alex Horne and John Robins.

So unusual was the quality of the wedge shot, in fact, that a search of the more familiar greenside rough was carried out before the hole even crossed any of our minds.

RELATED: Best drivers for beginners and high handicappers

“Well, I’ve never done that before,” Horne beams as he lifts his ball and shows it to Robins, whose two-fingered response is presumably just to confirm his playing partner’s score. “You should be pleased for me,” Horne jokingly suggests, having levelled their three-club challenge match. “I think I like playing with fewer clubs, that’s the longest shot I’ve ever holed.”

Alex Horne celebrates holing out as John Robins makes his feelings known!

It’s this relatable on-course relationship and topsy-turvy golf that has made Bad Golf such a success since its launch in February 2019.

Horne, the creator and star of BAFTA-winning television series Taskmaster, and Robins, the Edinburgh Comedy Award-winning stand-up and BBC Radio 5Live host, have almost 33,000 YouTube subscribers and more than one million views.

RELATED: Best golf balls for beginners and high handicappers

But with no guarantee of it proving a hit, what made the pair step out of their polished television and radio studios and in front of a wobbly, tripod-mounted iPhone to show the world their significantly-less successful hobby?

“We got really into watching a lot of golf YouTube channels and we just felt there wasn’t much there aimed at people as bad as us,” Robins explains. “The majority showed people who were playing to a standard that none of us will ever achieve.

“We’re both very comfortable in front of a camera and, as people who can’t play or practise every day and who aren’t naturally gifted golfers, we felt pretty representative of most amateurs.

RELATED: Cobra's new King Tour irons are softer than forged

“From there we decided it would be fun to film our matches to show that you don’t have to be hitting it 300 yards and making great scores to play and enjoy the game. The feedback has been that it reminds people of themselves playing golf, which is exactly what we wanted.”

Alex Horne and John Robins filming for Bad Golf.

Their monthly clash is released in nine-hole parts every other Monday. They’ve tussled across their home courses, Chartridge Park and Wycombe Heights, along with some more renowned British venues, from The Grove, Gleneagles and Berkhamsted, to Sunningdale Heath and Silvermere.

RELATED: The Best Golf Courses in the UK and Ireland 2020

Alongside the Bad Golf head-to-heads, they’ve filmed themselves getting golf lessons, tackling a version of the European Tour’s ‘14 Club Challenge’ and taking on Amputee World Long Drive Champion Mike Gays (Spoiler: They didn’t win).

On the course, it was Robins who prevailed 6.5-2.5 from the opening season’s matches, but Horne’s death-defying leap from his out-of-control buggy in the finale at Chiltern Forest secured funniest moment. “I thought I was going to get run over by my own buggy,” he breathlessly laughs.

WATCH: Alex Horne's buggy leap!

To watch in full screen from a desktop computer, press play and click the YouTube button

The pair are all-square in the lockdown-impacted second season... not that course and range closures stopped one half of Bad Golf from practising.

“I spent a lot of lockdown at my fiancée’s parent’s house,” says Robins. “My future father-in-law loves golf, he’s a member at Sunningdale, and he created a mini course in the garden, mowing a selection of fairways and greens for us to play. It was fantastic and just nice to be able to keep playing in some way.”

It clearly paid off as the left-hander broke 90 for the first time just days before our get together and has since joined a golf club where his handicap is down to 19. Bad, but clearly getting better.

RELATED: A simple guide to golf's new World Handicap System

Horne, on the other hand, hadn’t managed quite as much golf before the three-club challenge. “This is my first shot with this new driver, and my first shot in three months,” he announces on the opening tee. “I’m not expecting much… but I never do.”

He should’ve had more faith. Not only did the 24-handicapper’s shot split the fairway, his selection of driver, 6-iron and 54-degree wedge (plus putter) helped him to victory across the nine-hole match.

Alex Horne and John Robins aren't as bad at golf as the channel name suggests.

So, with their games clearly improving, could a channel name change be in the offing? “‘Probably A Little Bit Below Average Golf’ doesn’t feel quite as catchy!” Horne laughs.

“I mean, we’re not that bad – it’s not like we are absolute hackers – but I’m still at the stage where I’m quite pleased with a double bogey, especially on some of the tougher courses we have played and with my putting. For me it’s just about enjoying it. I really love being out on the course, taking in the surroundings and appreciating time out.”

RELATED: Putting coach Phil Kenyon saves you six shots

But with every round now being filmed, is there a risk that Bad Golf’s beloved hobby will start to feel more like another of their many work commitments?

“We have busy schedules so there are definitely times when I wish we didn’t have to film it,” says Horne. “But the response has been so positive that it overrides that.

“It definitely takes some getting used to, remembering to capture each shot and doing all the bits that go with the videos, but it’s getting easier, especially now as we have someone editing the videos for us, which is the really time-consuming part.”

WATCH: Bad Golf's three-club challenge

To watch in full screen from a desktop computer, press play and click the YouTube button

A lot of that editing includes adding a swear horn because, while Horne is content with doubles, Robins sets his golf expectations a little higher and is far from happy when he doesn’t meet them. His hilarious “Oh, John” reaction to every bad shot is a regular talking point in the channel’s comments section, becoming the unofficial catchphrase among fans.

The 38-year-old, whose Darkness of Robins show won comedy’s most coveted prize in 2017, is surprisingly hard on himself considering he only took the game up seriously four years ago.

RELATED: The complete beginner's guide to golf

“I’d moved near to Alex and he called to ask if I wanted to go to Portugal with him and 23 others for a golf weekend. I’d played casually before that, maybe a couple of 18-hole rounds, so I was quite intimidated, but I just had the most incredible time.

“I got the bug and, because of the way my brain works, I started about eight different spreadsheets and instantly searched ‘How to break 100’ videos on YouTube. It’s frustrating at times but I just love it.”

Ask comedians to jump in the air and they will, apparently!

That love won’t be news to listeners of Robins’ radio show, on which the Bristolian regularly regales co-host and fellow comic Elis  James with tales of his practice sessions and rounds. “John’s definitely more knowledgeable about the game than I am,” Horne says. “He loves the stats, the intricacies and he thinks about golf a lot. How excited were you about today, John?”

“I went to sleep thinking about it,” Robins laughs. “And when I woke up this morning it was the first thing on my mind. I honestly can’t imagine what it would be like if you’d never called me and asked me to come on that trip.”

That trip is now an annual highlight with Amendoeira’s O’Connor course playing host to Bad Golf’s monthly match during last October’s visit. Travel restrictions mean slightly cooler climes for this year’s getaway, but at least there’s no quarantine period required after a weekend at The Warwickshire.

Alex Horne and John Robins are bad golfers but not fair-weather golfers, as our round at The Shire proved.

“The trip is like our golf MOT – our annual check-up,” says Horne. “All our other rounds lead up to that and I really look forward to it.

“It’s actually another of the reasons we started the channel, to force us to play quite regularly and get ready ahead of that as it can be tricky fitting golf in around our work schedules and lives. I wish I could play more, but my three kids are having lessons so my plan is that we can become a fourball and it’ll be a bit of easy parenting. I can’t wait!”

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Bad Golf isn’t the first time Horne has created hilarious golf content with Taskmaster’s panel of comedians often asked to compete in golf-related challenges. Noel Fielding proved himself to be quite the player when ‘driving’ a Babybel ‘golf ball’ the furthest using a pool cue as a golf club, Joe Wilkinson impressed when throwing a potato into a golf hole, while James Acaster proved less adept at getting a cricket ball into the hole using an old driver.

WATCH: James Acaster's Taskmaster golf challenge

To watch in full screen from a desktop computer, press play and click the YouTube button

Horne also based an entire Edinburgh comedy show around his quest for an ace.

“I started playing properly when I was given 10 golf lessons for my 30th birthday,” the now 42-year-old remembers. “I set myself the challenge of getting the hole-in-one within two years.

“I placed a £33 bet with William Hill at odds of 33-1 and I did it… but I cheated a bit. Well, I placed two rakes near the hole which fed my shot into the hole, but they still paid out. I gave it to charity, otherwise my wife said I’d be arrested!”

There’s no such cheating or trickery when it comes to their videos. Every shot is caught on camera (“Assuming I notice if the tripod falls over,” says Horne) and shown to the world, no matter how bad or, occasionally, good.

Bad Golf's John Robins putts for a par.

“We both want to get better and I can still get very angry with myself on the course, as viewers get to see,” says Robins. “But we’re embracing the fact we’ll always be quite sh*t. It doesn’t mean we love it any less than better players and that’s what we want to show. 

“My goal is to play off 18. I think that’s a handicap that shows you can play, is fun to play off and that is maintainable even if you can’t play or practise all of the time.”

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The pair have certainly got the tools needed to improve. As the channel gained traction, Cobra Puma Golf replaced the pair’s aging clubs with custom-fitted sets, personalised golf bags and head-to-toe apparel. And yes, they’ve heard the old adage about golfers with all the gear…

“We certainly didn’t expect it, but we’ve really enjoyed the side effect of the channel, from the new clubs and meeting new people to getting to visit places and play courses which we never would’ve thought we could play otherwise,” says Horne. “Going to Gleneagles, for example, was such a thrilling experience.”

Alex Horne hits his tee shot on The Shire's par-3 12th.

Bad Golf spent three days at the five-star resort that tops Golf World’s Top 100 GB and Ireland Resorts, finding no reason to disagree with the ranking.

“The PGA Centenary Course is probably the toughest I’ve ever played,” says Robins. “We were there just before the Solheim Cup so the rough was up, plus it was pouring with rain and cold. It was just brutal. But what an amazing course. And what an amazing place.

“We love being ‘bad’ golfers on good courses because a lot of people don’t realise they can play these places. There’s an assumption that some courses won’t welcome you unless you’re an amazing player, but that’s absolutely not true. Golf has changed a lot and it is accessible.”

Alex Horne and John Robins recreate the Seve pose at The Shire.

With their love of golf and desire to promote the sport growing stronger by the day, can we expect to see more and more of the sport creeping into their day jobs?

“I’d love to do more and more golf tasks but then I risk Taskmaster becoming a golf programme,” says Horne, who, despite being 6’ 2”, has become affectionately known as ‘Little Alex Horne’ thanks to the show’s 6’ 8” host Greg Davies.

“What I’d love to do is some Bad Golf rounds with other comedians. Watching a frustrated Greg trying to play golf would be very entertaining!”

RELATED: Why we love golf: Joe Root and Stuart Broad

Finding fellow comedians to appear on the channel could prove more of an issue, as the pair have found as part of a comedian’s golf society.

“There are surprisingly few who play,” says Horne. “I think there’s still a bit of a stigma attached, so we’re definitely keen to do our bit to get rid of that and get more of them trying it.”

A socially-distance putter shake to mark Alex Horne's win at The Shire.

Robins has been working hard to expand the channel, recording videos and a podcast with the King of Golf YouTube, Rick Shiels. The Mancunian pro, who has 1.2 million subscribers, used just one club to Robins’ 14 in a nine-hole match, but it was the ‘bad’ golfer who stole the show when he came within inches of an ace on the par-3 7th at Worsley Park.

“That was my greatest moment in golf so far,” Robins recalls. “And it was caught on camera. I was speechless. I’ve watched that clip back a lot of times. Rick was great to work with and the number of people who watch him gave us a nice boost.”

Robins’ more recent meeting with Shiels heralded a less successful moment, the comic having to smash the window of his beloved Skoda Fabia having locked the keys inside the car at his hotel. Luckily, he still made it to the course in time.

WATCH: Bad Golf's John Robins near hole-in-one with Rick Shiels

To watch in full screen from a desktop computer, press play and click the YouTube button

“I think you learn more on the course with a coach than on a range,” says Robins. “ There’s a huge discrepancy between being taught how to swing a club and how to actually play golf, manage your way round and get the most out of your ability.”

Filming with another YouTuber, Golf Sidekick, is among Robins’ long-term channel aims, while he’d love to see a change to the UK’s practice facilities.

“Golf’s mad. It’s the only sport where you don’t practise on the same surface that you play. For some people, the only time they hit the ball off grass is when they play a round! I’d love more grass ranges, but I know that cost and maintenance makes that hard.”

RELATED: Tested: Range balls vs Premium golf balls

Horne agrees, although it’s less about the grass for him. “I really love the perfect pyramid of balls you get. It makes you feel like a pro.”

Luckily for Bad Golf fans, there’s no chance of that feeling becoming a reality just yet.

When Alex Horne and John Robins aren't playing Bad Golf

The golf course provides a welcome break from hectic schedules for the Bad Golf duo.

Robins spends much of his life touring the UK as a stand-up comic and presents an ARIA-award winning radio show with Welsh comedian Elis James on BBC Radio 5Live every Friday (download the podcast here).

BadGolf's John Robins with radio co-host and fellow comic Elis James.

The witty pair, who have worked together since launching a Radio X show in 2014, are credited with creating a forum that helps men discuss mental health. Having moved to the BBC in 2019, Robins and James started well-being podcast How Do You Cope?, a frank discussion with celebrities about difficult periods in their lives.

They have a written a book, The Holy Vible, and recorded a hit podcast series, Isolation Tapes, from their homes to help people through lockdown. Robins, who is a Queen superfan, is also part of a new podcast analysing the band’s music.

When he isn’t working or playing golf, you’ll find Robins in a quiet pub, making curry, watching Ronnie O’Sullivan’s best bits and following cricket.

Horne, meanwhile, has seen his Taskmaster show develop from a game he played with friends to an Edinburgh show and national television hit. The series sees celebrities take on obscure challenges set and managed by Horne, which fellow comic Greg Davies then judges.

Alex Horne created the hit show Taskmaster, which he appears on as 'assistant' to Greg Davies.

The show won the BAFTA for Comedy Entertainment Programme in July and moves from DAVE to Channel 4 for its 10th series. The show starts on October 15th with Davies and Horne overseeing comedians Richard Herring, Daisy May-Cooper, Johnny Vegas, Katherine Parkinson and Mawaan Rizwan.

During lockdown Horne took Taskmaster challenges to the public via social media. ‘Hometasking’ saw thousands submit videos for Horne and Davies to judge. In-between watching entries, Horne and his long-time comedy band, The Horne Section, with whom he tours and records a regular podcast (download it here), were part of BBC One’s Saturday primetime show Peter Crouch: Save Our Summer.

Away from work, you’ll find the married dad-of-three watching Chesham United FC or, perhaps, Countdown, having won three episodes of the show back in 2008.

WATCH: Alex Horne and The Horne Section's hilarious Grandaddy song

To watch in full screen from a desktop computer, press play and click the YouTube button

RELATED: Why the harder you try, the worse you play

WITB: Bad Golf's Alex Horne and John Robins

WITB Bad Golf - Alex Horne and John Robins.

WITB John Robins

Click the club names to read reviews and tests

Driver 

Cobra King Speedzone Xtreme

Loft: 10.5º set to 11.5º. Shaft: Tensei blue 65 reg

Hybrid

Cobra King Speedzone

Loft: 2H. Shaft: Recoil reg

Irons

Cobra King Speedzone

Lofts: 5-GW. Shafts: Recoil reg

Wedges

Cobra King MIM

Lofts: 52º, 58º. Shafts: STD wedge shaft

Putter

Odyssey O-Works 2.0 R-Line

Golf ball

Bridgestone E6

Apparel

Puma

John Robins takes his game a little more seriously than Bad Golf co-creator Alex Horne.

WITB Alex Horne

Click the club names to read reviews and tests

Driver 

Cobra King Speedzone Xtreme

Loft: 10.5 (set to 11.5). Shaft: Bassara 40 reg shaft

Hybrid 

Cobra King Speedzone

Loft: 3H. Shaft: Recoil reg shaft

Irons 

Cobra King Speedzone

Lofts: 5-GW, 2º upright. Shafts: Recoil reg shaft (+0.25inches)

Wedge 

Cobra King MIM

Loft: 54º, 2º upright. Shaft: STD wedge shaft (+0.25 inches)

Putter 

Ping Sigma 2 Fetch

Golf ball 

Srixon AD333

Apparel

Puma

WATCH: Alex Horne and John Robins' Cobra clubfitting

To watch in full screen from a desktop computer, press play and click the YouTube button

For more from Bad Golf, subscribe to their YouTube channel or follow on Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow John Robins on Twitter and Instagram and Alex Horne on Twitter.