When a video surfaced of defending Masters golf tournament champion Bubba Watson cruising down the fairway on his Oakley-sponsored hovercraft, the world took notice: It's been seen by more than 60 million people after being covered by ABC, CNN, ESPN and countless websites.
It's been such a big hit, in fact, that despite the video turning out to be a stunt by viral marketer Thinkmodo, the manufacturer is moving ahead with plans to sell the vehicle to the public.
Neoteric Hovercraft President Chris Fitzgerald told Yahoo News he plans to produce up to 140 of the hovercraft models this year and has had to push back his company's other production orders to keep up with surging demand.
“He’s actually forced to do it because he’s getting so many inquiries,” Thinkmodo's Michael Krivicka told Yahoo News. “He’s kind of a celebrity now because of it. Millionaires from Russia are calling him, placing orders.”
Other than for the obvious cool factor, why would someone spend upward of $50,000 on a golf cart hovercraft?
Fitzgerald acknowledged that it's largely a novelty, but he said there are a few legitimate reasons. “They have a very low environmental impact,” Fitzgerald said. “They can also get up to 50 mph. You can literally fly over a water hazard.”
In addition, Fitzgerald said, he’s tweaking the golf cart cabin to make it more spacious. However, he was quick to note that along with the relatively steep price tag, this golf court requires flight training.
“It’s about a 12-hour course,” he said. “But when you’re done, you could fly your friends around the course.”
Still, Krivicka pointed out that not everything in the video, called "Bubba’s Hover," is entirely real. For example, in its current form, the hovercraft is loud. And it doesn’t do well when traversing bumpy terrain, as a hovercraft is drawn to depressions in the ground. For example, if you drove next to a ditch, you’d probably end up crashing into it.
“The idea was a collaborative thing from us, Oakley [who is also Watson's corporate sponsor], Bubba and Neoteric,” Krivicka said in an interview from Thinkmodo’s New York offices. “It literally all started with a napkin drawing. It has already become the most successful marketing campaign ever for Oakley.”
“I’ve been in this business for 50 years. You can pull your hair out trying to figure out how to get this information out that this technology exists,” Fitzgerald added. “In one fell swoop it’s gotten across all these hovercraft concepts to people.”
“Pretty much everything you see in the video is real,” Krivicka said. “But we staged the crowd reactions and specifically chose a golf course in Arizona that suited our needs."
But the bottom line is you can now purchase a flying golf cart.