Shot at High Noon

So I got a call from my pals out at UT Golf Club yesterday, needing a shot of #12.  I dug up this one and thought about what a handy tool HDR has been for me and golf.  I shot this one at high noon a few years ago.  Before, shooting a golf course at any time other than “the golden hour” was a bad idea.  Noon was out of the question.  Not anymore.  You real estate marketers remember this when you’re told you can’t shoot in the middle of the day.

Name that golf course


From a consumer marketing standpoint, here’s a good reason to avoid aerial photography of golf courses, at least in the Hill Country.  I don’t care who you are.  You can’t tell me that this shot does anything for anyone (except maybe a developer or a homebuilder.)  I hate the word “standpoint.”

A day in the life

I started this blog on the suggestion and encouragement of the talented team at Fosforus.  In terms of ROI, it has been a homerun.  Off the charts.  The only investment has been time posting entries, and I’ve had actual cash return.  So big thanks to WordPress and to Fosforus.  That said, I think I’ll join the rest of you bloggers out there who use these things to tell people about your day (no, I’m not making fun of you…I repeat, I join you).  Today started out with trip to the dump.  1-800-Got-Junk is not effectively marketing themselves if they’re not using an image like this with a caption that reads something like, “You’ll Never Get The Smell Out of Your Nostril Hairs.”  You think Hell has fire and stuff?  Mine has six inches of foul-smelling slippery grey mud.


Then, I drove back downtown.  Probably shouldn’t be snapping photos on a 70-foot flyover at 55mph.


I saw a bad wreck at the intersection of MLK and the I-35 access road.  I hope everyone was okay, and by the look of that Prius, I bet they are.  Astounding structural resilience.


I drove past the Capitol and thought about all the people I know who’ve worked there.


Then I saw this in a parking lot in Sunset Valley.


Then I drove back downtown and noticed how far along the W Hotel is coming.


When I got up to Congress, I saw a small herd of those Segue tour people.


And one of them wiped out.  I couldn’t help laughing.  Sorry.


Then I went south on Congress to shoot some of those traliers that sell food, but got there to find that they’re not open on Mondays.  Shit.


So I went home.


Oh, and today is my birthday.

On the tee

utgolfclub18thteeA few guys from the golf staff at UT Golf Club on the 18th tee.  This hole, in my opinion, is the best closing hole in the Austin area.  And all the times I’ve played bogeyed it, I always thought to peel a draw off that right fairway bunker.  GM Steve Termeer (there in the white cap) says no.  The correct line is at the left bunker.  Who knew?  I guess it pays to listen to a good player.

19th Hole


A peek into the bar at UT Golf Club.

UT Golf Club Clubhouse

utgolfclubhall1Been out to see the new clubhouse at UT Golf Club?  Very nice.  Here’s a shot from the hall that connects the main lobby to the golf shop.  Stay tuned for more.

My book


So for those who don’t want to click through the whole blog and sit through my ramblings, click here to see a random sample of some images from the past year or so.  Shots from assigments, directed shots, personal stuff.  Chase Jarvis, at one point, asked readers to send in their opinions as to which ones in his portfolio they liked (and disliked) most.  I’d sure appreciate some feedback from you.  I like them all, so if you only want to tell me which ones suck, that’s okay, too.  Thanks for any input.

More defense of the short par-4

acc4Allow me to define “reachable” when referring to par-4s.  According to the PGA Tour’s stats, only 55 yards spearates the longest driver (Bubba Watson, 315 yds.) from the guy sitting at 197th (Corey Pavin, 261) in driving distance.   That means most tour players hit it about 290.  Tour players.  Not you.  Some of you hit it longer, but unless you’re eight or eighty years old or have some physical setback that keeps you from making an efficient golf swing, you can hit it 290 if you really go after it.  Hitting the ball past Corey Pavin is not magic or strength or the ball or the driver or the shaft.  So, all you golf course architects:  Please, please build more holes for me.  300 from the back tee, maybe 210 from the ladies’ tee.  Then go to work on the green complex.  Options, options.  Make one bunker deep, another shallow enough to putt from.  False fronts, false rears, whatever.  Make me think about playing golf.

Here’s a list of some short par 4’s I like around the Austin area (golf course architect):

#10 at Lions Muny (Not sure…John Bredemus?)

#4 at Austin Country Club (Pete Dye)

#3 at Onion Creek Club (Jimmy Demaret)

#12 at Barton Creek Foothills (Tom Fazio)

#13 at UT Golf Club (Roy Bechtol/Randy Russell)

#15 at Grey Rock Golf Club (Jay Morrish)

#14 at Barton Creek Cliffside (Ben Crenshaw/Bill Coore)

#16 at Roy Kizer GC (Randy Russell)

Maybe you have some favorites?

Grey Rock Golf Club

greyrockgolfI played Grey Rock this morning with a friend from Laredo, and I’ve got to say, it just keeps getting better.  The greens were as good as they’ve ever been in the 16 years I’ve been playing there, and the service today was incredible.  Especially good for people having to work on Christmas Eve.  Great job out there, everyone.  I look forward to playing more in 2009.  At Grey Rock, for sure, but also to getting in a round or two at Laredo CC in the spring.


ambushSurely that’s what Roy Bechtol and Randy Russell (together or apart) felt when Lajitas announced that Lanny Wadkins would assume responsibility for redesigning the golf course out there after the massive flood.  I shot this one back in 2001.  Couple of questions:  Why wouldn’t they bring Bechtol and/or Russell back for the fix?  Both of them know every square inch of that place.  They know the drainage issues, environmental challenges, agronomic nuances and everything else better than anyone.  And with all due respect to Lanny, his playing career and his golf course design philosophy, if they were looking for a “name” to attach to the design, why not go get one that commands a bigger bang for the buck in terms of dirt selling?  I don’t expect an answer.  Just curious.

Thoughts on golf course photography

texas-golf-hdrBefore you other photographers get all pissy about lens flare and HDR and all the other stuff that’s “wrong” with that shot there, allow me to assist amateur shooters in their quest to take better golf landscape shots.

I’m a golfer.  And I’m not the kind to hit lots of fairways and greens and play robo-golf, like today’s Tour players.  I’m like my pal Roy Bechtol, who claims “it’s boring in the fairway.”  I’d rather have a chance to hit a great shot from a tough place than have a chance to screw up an easy one.  The photo there reveals a little about my shooting style.  Sometimes when I’m shooting design features on foot, I’ll circumnavigate a green, looking for the place I’d most likely find myself with a lob wedge in hand.  You know, the only spot where you CAN’T make par unless you sink a 30-footer.

The 9th green at UT Golf Club

utgolfclubhole9Here’s a shot of the 9th green and approach area out at UT Golf Club.  This hole has dozens of great photographs just waiting to be captured.  It’s a great par-5, too.  Big, bending, well-bunkered with a small green.  The only thing I don’t like is that it looks like the safe play is left of the green.  Not so.  There’s a big shaved collection area over there that’s a fairly tough up-and-down.  At least for someone with the yips me.

UT Golf Club

ut_golf_clubCongratulations to everyone at UT Golf Club for finally getting in the new clubhouse.  And for the rest of you, go take a look at it.  Really, really nice.  Some of my photos are hanging up in there somewhere.  This one here of the par-3 2nd hole isn’t one of them, but looking at it brings a few things to mind in the spirit of teaching golf photography in the Hill Country.

First, mornings are a crap shoot.  The light is usually perfect, but maintenance crews making tracks in the dew can ruin a sublime golf landscape.  Also, remember to dress well.  By “well,” I mean be prepared to experience the proverbial witch’s tit.  At least in the spring and fall.

Second, don’t let anyone tell you that you need a ____ing ladder.  This is just my opinion (which is the most important one on this blog), but the best golf photos are from the ground.  Isn’t that where golfers are?


lajitas-golfI just read a story by Steve Habel of Bechtol Golf about how the recent flooding of the Rio Grande demolished the golf course at Lajitas almost beyond repair.  Shame.  I shot this one back in 2002, and I really enjoyed the golf course, the town, the feel of the place.  Gavin Heap was the pro then.  Maybe he still is.  Word has it that the golf course will reopen in March 2009.  I’ll go back, for sure.  The silence on that golf course is unbelievable.

The 10th hole at Lions Muny

Here’s one of my favorite short par 4s.  Find me a private club with 18 holes like this, and I’d join.  Think about it.  Who needs par 3s and par 5s if you have a bunch of these?  Every hole would be a birdie hole, with the risk of making double.  Beautiful.  Message to Roy Bechtol:  You’ve got the balls to sell this to your next client.  Do it!