Ryu: Sadly, more golf

Hello friends.

We actually had plans for some awesome blog posts between the recent podcasts, but it fell through. It should happen, but it won’t happen right away as we expected. Cryptic as this may sound, I just want to take this place to apologise for the lack of blog posts. Please keep on loving us.

I just came back from 2 weeks of shooting golf. The Open Championship and Evian Masters. Now that I have shot 3 golf tournaments, I am certain that golf is not a sport. If golf is a sport, then pole dancing is sports reserved for the goddesses. Walking around and hitting a ball and walking around and hitting a ball is not a sport. The elements? The 4 rounds 72 holes? If a 60 years old can play better than a 25 years old, it should not be considered a sport. (Minor update: Moments after I wrote this post, my wife said that golf is a “precision sport” much like darts, pool, and so forth. Sadly, she makes sense) Rants aside (phew), if you are interested in shooting golf, here are some things I learned. Hardly a golf expert’s opinion, but it should help you a bit.

1. Walk
Lazy asses should be on their lazy asses sitting in front of the TV and not be shooting any golf. This is the only kind of sports photography that you the photographer needs more athletic ability than your subject. You will be walking with all your equipment, at breakneck speed for the next 4 days following the golfers throughout the course. Now, step away and put those stilettos back onto the shelf.

2. Waterproof
Jackets, shoes, and most importantly your cameras raincoats. Make sure everything is waterproof. Also make sure that you bring clothes you can easily take off and on depending on the temperature and the weather.

3. Amateurs
Don’t ever think of shooting amateur golf unless you have a death wish. Just so you know what I’m talking about, imagine a golf ball. It is hard and white and has diples. Then imagine it catapulting off 5 metres away from you, going straight through your lens and into your right eye socket. Accuracy are reserved for the pros. Amateurs are amateurs for a reason and this is one sport I recommend that you don’t shoo them.

4. Right / Left
I hope you know which one is which, because my wife doesn’t (true story). If you are shooting a golfer who is right handed, which side do you want to be? If you are facing the golfer, it will be to your left. If you are on positioned to your right, you get a shot full of ass. This is not a rule, rather something you should know as a discerning adult sports photographer.

5. Again
So you messed up your right from your left. You’re an idiot, but unlike any other sport, in golf you get multiple chances to get it right. For example, if you are working on a specific style or look with a golfer at the tee and you happen to mess up the composition, you only have to look at the green and see that there are more golfers on your way.

6. Background
Probably the most important in shooting golf. You have to be mindful of the surrounding and what background you want to use. Unlike most other sports where you are limited to one position, you can literally pick any position in golf. Almost everywhere unless it involves Tiger Woods.

7. Tee
No, I didn’t misspell it. Every morning, they will give you fresh tee times. If you are hunting for a specific player, you better hold onto that piece of paper for dear life unless you have a photographic memory.

8. Map
Golf courses are unnecessarily big. They brainwash you into thinking that walking long distance makes you think it’s a sport. If you don’t own the course or were brought up on it, it’s best you take a map of the course. You could get a compass to go with it, but then you’re being silly.

9. High / Low
We preach going low, but depending on the topography of the course, if you go low the only think you’ll be able to see is the ponytail on the golfer’s head. Be conscious how high or low you are when composing a shot.

10. Metering
Things change a lot throughout the day when you’re having a great time shooting golf. Clouds, advertisement boards, golf wear, and foliage can throw your metering into a tizzy. Tizzy, yes, tizzy. You shoot digital for a reason. Check your exposure carefully before every shot.

11. Leaderboard
In some sophisticated tournaments, they have apps for that. You will be able to roam around the course and the app will tell you in real time who is where and who is leading the pack. Definitely a must on the final day of the tournament. If you don’t have a smart phone and can’t get apps, ask someone with a radio. They will at least be able to tell you who’s in the lead and maybe they will give you a candy.

12. Ball
It’s small and it’s white. I’ll see it when it’s hit, but when it’s in the air against the white clouds, it may very well be invisible. For some reason people around me seem to know exactly where the ball is. In most cases, you need to know where the ball lands to plan your next shot, so it’s best you find out as soon as possible where the balls been hit. If you don’t see it, ask someone who looks he’s been up and down.

13. Tiger
Last week, I shot the Open Championship. It was in England which meant that the weather was lousy. It also meant that Tiger Woods was, as we say in my neighbourhood, “in da house”. The MJ of golf, the one and only. Rockstar adulterer. Love him. So I wanted to spend as much time as and the moment came when he hit the approach off the green and into the rough. It’s amazing what 3 tournaments will do to your golf lingo. I got myself right behind the ball so that I can shoot Tiger hit the ball directly behind him with a wide angle lens. Slowly but surely, Tiger approached where I was sitting. For some reason, there wasn’t a photographer anywhere near me. Lucky me, lazy bastards, I thought. As soon as he saw where the ball was, he said:

“Will you please move away from the ball?”

I looked around and there was no one but me in the general direction of his directive. My mind went blank for a brief moment and I scurried away to the right as soon as possible.

The moral of the story is that unlike any other sport, there are lots of rules when it comes to shooting golf. Be mindful of the gallery, other photographers, and the players. They are more important than you, always.

Enjoy golf.


*Please Read Below*
Big Lens Fast Shutter is funded solely from the pockets of Ryu Voelkel and Matt Cohen. If you think the information we give you about sports photography is making you a better sports photographer and as a result a well balanced human being, please show us your appreciation by supporting us on Patreon and send some of your hard earned dollars/euros/Brixton pounds our way. People who donate will be mentioned on our next show unless you want to remain anonymous. Thank you for supporting us and may the force of sports photography be with you, always.

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