The kids that were the subjects of the SXSW documentary The Short Game probably weren’t surprised that their movie won an Audience Award at the festival. After all, they win pretty much whenever they hit the road. Playmaker Magazine got to sit down and talk to the youngest golfers in the world about what it was like being followed by cameras and their favorite aspects of the game of golf.
Ironically, they had plenty of questions for me too. In the room were Allan Kournikova, Alexa Pano, Sky Sudberry, and Yang Kuan.
Playmaker Magazine: So how old were you guys when you first started playing?
Alexa Pano: I was four, about to turn five.
Allan Kournikova: I was 18 months old.
Playmaker Magazine: Eighteen months!? Could you even walk at 18 months?
Allan: I could play off my knees.
PM: What was it like when [director] Josh [Greenbaum] was following you when you were playing?
Alexa: It was a little weird at first, but then we sort of got used to it and started having fun with it.
PM: What was the most fun part about it?
Alexa: The most fun part was when we were on the golf course and they were below us filming us. Also, we liked having the helicopter.
Allan: I didn’t get the helicopter. It’s called “the parrot.”
Josh Greenbaum: We couldn’t figure out the schedule for Allan.
PM: Why did you like having the helicopter follow you around?
Sky Sudberry: It was in slow-motion. They showed how it came around. I had never seen a camera like that.
Alexa: I hit a bunker shot and you could see every grain of sand.
Yang Kuan: I have a question, can you play golf?
PM: I can play golf, yes. Not as good as you guys (*all the kids laugh*), but I started playing when I was a little younger than you guys. Would you get nervous around the cameras?
PM: You guys have come to Texas for tournaments. What do you like about coming to Texas?
Alexa: The people here are a lot nicer than in Florida. They also are a lot more serious about golf than in Florida.
PM: But you guys have never been to Texas to stay in a movie. What was it like watching yourselves on screen?
Sky: It was cool seeing what we really look like when we putt.
PM: Was this the first time you’ve watched yourself play?
Sky: It wasn’t the first time, but it was clearer than what I use when I practice.
PM: Were you critiquing yourselves when you were watching the movie?
Sky: If I focused on it… but I just had fun watching the movie. I just focused on that.
Alexa: We just had fun watching the movie. We watched our putting strokes, saw what horrible swings we hit, and just went on with it.
PM: Who are your favorite golfers?
Photo courtesy Darren Caroll/Getty Images
Sky: Lexi Thompson.
Alexa: Lexi Thompson and Mickey Wright.
Allan: Lexi Thompson.
PM: Everyone’s a Lexi Thompson fan. Any of the older guys you like watching and rooting for when you watch the majors?
Allan: I like Tiger.
Alexa: Yeah, we all like Tiger.
Sky: I like Phil Mickelson.
PM: Nice. *high five* You’re my favorite.
Allan: I got Phil’s gloves from a tournament he played in.
PM: Have you guys met any of your favorite golfers?
Alexa & Allan: I’ve met Lexi Thompson.
PM: That explains it…
Allan: She practices at my course.
Alexa: I’m gonna meet Mickey Wright soon. I almost got Tiger’s autograph.
Sky: I’ve met Phil Mickelson and I’ve seen a lot of the other pros.
PM: Alexa and Allan, I saw you guys get into a few fights in the movie. You guys tussle. Who wins more?
Alexa: Yeah, mostly him. Every bruise on my body is from him.
Allan: Oh, she admits it!
PM: But that makes you stronger, right? You guys talk a lot about power in the movie.
Alexa: In the gym, I work on power. Not with the “Allan-ator.”
PM: Is that his nickname?
Alexa: No, but when he wrestles me, I don’t need a machine to…
Yang: She likes Lady Gaga!
Alexa: I’m going to kill you!
Allan: She wants Lady Gaga to marry her father.
Alexa: No I don’t!
PM: I did enjoy that part of the movie. Do you remember having said that when you saw it in the movie?
PM: Did you guys feel more pressure when the cameras were on you during the tournament?
Alexa: I don’t really get nervous or feel pressure, but with the cameras there I actually played better.
Sky: I played worse, but I still played ok.
Allan: It doesn’t make me nervous. It’s like the cameras were just like a tree. I didn’t feel like a camera. It just felt like a tree staring at me.
PM: When do you guys have the most fun when you’re golfing?
Sky: I love to compete.
Alexa: And after, when we see whether we’re good or bad or whether we won. That’s when we’re really happy.
PM: Of course, you like that part. You win all the time.
Sky: After I play, I always go to the scoreboard to see if I won.
Alexa: And there’s a little bit of tension there because if you lost, you’re like, “Oh no, I thought I played awesome!”
Yang: Do you like the KFC?
PM: I prefer Church’s Chicken. We have Church’s here in Texas and I like that.
Sky: I like KFC better.
PM: In the Junior tournaments I’ve covered, the groups spend a lot of time talking about how everyone else is doing. Do you guys do that when you play?
Alexa: In our group, some of us stay really focused on it… *stares at Allan*
PM: I see she’s looking at you, Allan.
Alexa: I shouldn’t mention what he does because I don’t want to, but…
Allan: Alexa, I have my knuckles ready. All four of them.
Alexa: I’m not afraid.
PM: I don’t want to start a fight here. Alexa, you’re always wearing that New England Patriots cap. I thought you lived Florida.
Alexa: I’m originally from Boston. I started wearing this hat when I was little. I won the World Championships with it, so it’s carried on.
PM: They show how superstitious you are in the movie. What about the rest of you?
Sky: Sometimes, but not really. Only with the kinds of balls I play and the glove I wear.
PM: Other than golf, what is your favorite sport to play?
Sky: It’s not really a sport, but I like dancing and singing.
Alexa: I do a little bit of basketball and a little bit of art, but most of my day is school and golf.
Allan: You didn’t see this in the movie, but when I was three, I did three sports. From 18 months to three years old. Golf is pretty much all I like to do.
Yang: What do you like to drink!?
Alexa: When I had just started playing golf, I was playing tennis, I was doing soccer, softball, and then I started leaning towards basketball and volleyball. And then I made my decision to play golf.
PM: Well, it was great talking to you guys. I enjoyed the movie as a golfer, but I think I would’ve liked it even if I didn’t play golf.
Alexa: I don’t think many people in the audience were golfers, but they really enjoyed it.
PM: Well, this was a lot of fun. And I enjoyed answering your questions, Yang. (*everyone laughs*) And I like drinking Dr. Pepper.