Covering golf is never easy … long hours in the hot sun, a seemingly ever-changing group of leaders (especially on the first couple of rounds) who must be chased down and photographed, and fear that you’ll release the camera shutter at exactly the wrong time. These are just a few reasons. But photographing golf is also very rewarding. For starters, it’s hard to find a sport with cleaner backgrounds. And the fans … who doesn’t love drunken folks who scream “get in the hole!!!” every chance they get. That does become annoying, but I do love having such direct access to the fans. The only thing separating fans from photographers, and the golfers for that matter, is a thin rope that stretches along the entirety of each course.
Earlier this month, I was part of the USA TODAY team covering the U.S. Open. If you’re not that familiar with professional golf, the Open is one of four “major” championships held each year. The Open rotates to a different course each year (the Masters is the only major that is played at the same location). This year, the Open was held at Pinehurst No. 2 at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort Country Club. There was lots (and I mean lots) of talk in the media about the redesign of the course (Check out this New York Times video piece and article, which gives a brief history of the course). This same course held the U.S. Open in 1999 and 2005. Players who played in those would experience a vastly different course this time around.
As you can see, this doesn’t look like most courses. While the greens are manicured, only the center of the fairways are watered. Whatever does not get water via irrigation, simply becomes what they call a “natural area.” And because these natural areas have so many different textures and surfaces (hard sand, soft sand, short grass, tall grass, small trees, etc.), it can wreak havoc on a golf game. And that it did.
However, there was one player from Germany who seemed unfazed by the course. Martin Kaymer led the field all four days of the tournament. Though a few came within a few strokes of catching him, he didn’t have much to worry about. It was his second major win.
Fellow freelance photographer Jason Getz (Blue Dolphin), myself (Black Squirrel) and USA TODAY Sports staff editor Kyle Terada (Panda Bear) comprised the USA TODAY team. Those awesome animal names were our radio handles, though Kyle claims Panda year ’round. We had to keep it interesting … 7 days in the North Carolina sun and humidity can be enough drive anyone a little mad :)
Anyways, below are some of my favorite images from those seven days:
I was seeing double a couple of times.
A fan loses his hat during umbrella deployment.
Marcel Siem (right) jokes around with Alex Cejka between holes.
Zach Johnson and caddie on 14.
A hole marshal signals to close off a fairway crossing.
A fan takes a photo of the Payne Stewart statue outside the clubhouse. Stewart died shortly after winning the U.S. Open at Pinehurst in 1999.
Fan favorite Ricky Fowler paid tribute to the late Stewart, who was well known for his knickers and other distinctive clothing choices.
This is the weekend edition (June 13-15) of the USA TODAY sports section featuring my photograph of Fowler.
Black squirrel, my buddy.
Sergio Garcia talks to media in this strange stage that looked more like a karaoke setup than anything else.
Though he was the center of lots of media coverage leading up to the Open, Phil Michelson had a bad week, finishing 17 strokes behind Kaymer.
Kaymer celebrates his win of the 114th U.S. Open.
And here is the Monday, June 16, edition of the sports section: