Ryu: Golf, a lot tougher than you think

As I have done many times in the past, I’m writing this on my way back from a shoot.  This time it was golf at the Evian Masters in France and it has been the toughest shoot I have ever been involved.  Not because golf itself is a tough sport.  Bunch of people swinging sticks and hitting a small ball whilst having a stroll in a big park doesn’t define toughness.   But the act of covering this sport requires endurance, pre-imaing / pre-composing, and of course patience.

1. Endurance
When I shoot football, I arrive at the stadium and if there is a photographer’s / press room, I sit there pondering about my effectiveness as a dictator had I been given a chance to rule one of those very small Latin American countries.  When I’m relatively certain that making sports photography a noble profession in Ryuistan, I get off my noble ass and head to the pitch.  There, I park myself in a spot for 45 minutes and another spot for another 45 minutes.  Most other sports I’ve shot, there might be some movement, but not enough to be considered as a movement.  More like shifting.

Enter golf and unfit sports photographers not need to apply.  You will carry all your equipment, not on your roller bags, but on your shoulders and other available body parts where you can hang stuff from.  Then you will racewalk for 6.5 km (4 miles) a day, occasionally stopping to take shots of people playing golf.  If you decide to take a shot from behind a player, you will be guaranteeing yourself a nice run to the next shot.  All this with your equipment bouncing mercilessly on your body whilst going up and down small mountains on the course itself.  Repeat this for 4 days.  Don’t forget that you are at the first tee at 7AM for the first group and 7PM at the 18th for the final group.  Make sure you add the elements: Sun, rain, hot, wet, and cold.  One last thing: Don’t forget your monopod at home like some idiot did this weekend.  You will be seeing hells and stars.  :)

2. Pre-imaging / Pre-composing
In most sports, you only have 180 degrees of shooting angle.  Maybe even less depending on how many neighbours you have with you on the sidelines. This is because you sit in one place and are not allowed to move until the end of the quarter/period/half.  In golf, every shot is another period. Obviously there is an abundance of choice in angles, but you have to make your decision as to where you will be shooting immediately after the ball is struck.  Therefore it is paramount that you have a basic idea of how you want to compose your next shot whilst you are shooting the current one.  To screw with you even more, add the elements of elevation of the course and that burning star high above.  They will give you fits and indigestion.

3. Patience
Apparently it’s a virtue and I have none of it.  This whole shooting golf business revolves around a lot of hanging out with yourselves and with others.  There is a lot of downtime where you will be playing the waiting game.  Waiting for the group in front to finish their business, waiting for some weird noise to die down, waiting for people to get out of the way.  Whilst you shoot almost non stop at a stadium / indoor sports, in golf your actual shooting time is about 10%.  The rest is divvied up between moving, losing the sight of the ball, and waiting.  When you have been walking the entire morning while the sun gave you a 3rd degree burn, it’s very easy to lose your concentration.  At the end of the day, we’re shooting golf here.  But you cannot let it slip as things do happen very quickly at a moments notice.  Must be patient and stay concentrated, Daniel san.

All’s said and done, I cannot imagine anything tougher than shooting golf.  I’ve never thought a day would come that the act of shooting a sport is more of a sport than the sport that is being shot.  Lots of sports there.  The 4 days spent cursing at why I wasn’t playing the game of thrones in Ryuistan, instead slogging through mud and grass was nothing short of pure suckiness.  But I don’t feel like I figured this whole thing out and I will jump at another opportunity to shoot this boring sport.

Masochistically yours,


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2 thoughts on “Ryu: Golf, a lot tougher than you think

  1. I’ve just covered my first golf tournament and I’ve got to say, Ryu man, you tell it like it is! I agree with ALL of the above. I had all of the walking and all of the weathers.

    You missed the bit about the first 2 days not knowing who the players are, and having to take notes. Note the time you’re shooting the players, then wait ’til one of them goes to the caddy, and the caddy eventually turns round so you can read his players name off the back of his tabard (if he’s not got the bag slung over it). Or maybe you’ll hear a name mentioned. Then you can make your note of the players name and what they’re wearing and you can confidenty caption your shot later. Of course, the next time you see them, the rain will have come on and their waterproofs are different colours. It’s a good job you get the luxury if time to do this.

    Also, since it’s been raining, you might lose the first page of your flimsy notebook and have to ask someone who knows the players anyway.

    It was interesting that in the 3 days of my tournament I took fewer photos than I normally would in a single game of hockey or rugby.

    Hard going, but a different challenge, and I’m looking forward to the next one.

    Oh, and on day one I forgot half of the power cable for my laptop….

  2. Duncan,

    Well said about the getting to know who these people with lots of sticks are. I too had a rather difficult time trying to match the name and the players, but in the end I resorted to asking the vets as I just gave up trying to be smart. :)

    Forgetting half of the power cable is a veteran move. Nice one. :)


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