The Masters, which, in the USA, is golf’s equivalent of high mass, just wrapped in Augusta, Georgia. It was notable for the play, of course, and the drama, and the skills displayed by all those young hard chargers on that blustery golf course. It was also notable in that it was Tom Watson’s last Masters go round, and that the 45 year old Phil Mickelson, former green jacket wearer, didn’t make the cut.
Golf has changed. It’s turbocharged with money, endorsements and sheer athleticism. The old school image of golfers, even pros, being slightly portly gentlemen knocking a little white ball about the greenery before retiring to the clubhouse for a few rounds of libations is largely gone, and has been for quite a while.
Take a look at this Nike ad. Sheer, dogged training resulting in great power is the message. Some years back, Golf Digest magazine asked me to do a take on the changing physiques of young golfers. I shot it during Tiger’s heyday, when his dominance precipitated a sea change in the approach to the training regimens of aspiring pros and college team golfers.
I photographed the UCLA men’s golf team at the time, as you can see in the picture above, by constructing a platform, set against black, upon which the athletes stood. In the well behind the platform, I placed four xenon arc lights of middling size and power, and added some smoke. Overhead were two large Octa light shapers, with big power sources (2400ws). Back at camera were also large studio strobes, skipping a low fill source off of white foamcore. Pretty simple light combo, which was essentially a very large over/under beauty light. It emphasized their musculature and imposing physicality. That, and a whole bunch of baby oil.
I switched to white, but kept the same up front combo, and we did a, well, wardrobe change.
I shot this in two frames, five golfers in each, and the magazine stitched those two pictures together to create a gatefold, which, at the time of publication, generated more letters than any previous picture ever run in the magazine. It also generated some news back at the UCLA campus, and was reported about in The Daily Bruin, the UCLA student newspaper. I recall some of the letters to the editor, one of which (as I remember) simply consisted of one line. “Who knew golf could be this much fun?”