A Few Tips for Photographing Golf


On Monday, September 1st, I covered the final round of the Bellingham Amateur Tournament for The Bellingham Herald. I like golf as much as I like to be bitten by a swarm of yellowjackets.  But, I will say i like a challenge. And when something is difficult to photograph, I take on that challenge. No matter how boring!

Look at that BOKEH!!!

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Mark Strickland drives off the 7th hole tee during final day of the 40th Bellingham Amateur Golf Tournament  at Lake Padden Golf Course on Monday Sept. 1, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Mark Strickland drives off the 7th tee during final day of the 40th Bellingham Amateur Golf Tournament at Lake Padden Golf Course on Monday Sept. 1, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

Photographing golf is a major challenge. There are two things you MUST pay attention to when shooting it:

  • 1. Be quiet. Don’t shoot while they are getting ready to put or drive. 
  • 2. Stay out of the line of the golfers when they are putting. or driving. 

Out of the Sand:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - John Milkotic drives from a sand trap at the 9th green during the final day of the 40th Bellingham Amateur Golf Tournament  at Lake Padden Golf Course on Monday Sept. 1, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – John Milkotic drives from a sand trap at the 9th green during the final day of the 40th Bellingham Amateur Golf Tournament at Lake Padden Golf Course on Monday Sept. 1, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

Yes, being quiet and unobtrusive is a challenge. The shutter is louder than you think, the carts can be noisy, and sneezing or coughing is like dropping a bed pan in a maternity ward. Seriously, you need to be as quiet as possible.

While I i was a photo intern at the Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner, my assignment one fall day was to shoot the final round of the Utah State Amateur Open at the Alpine Country Club in Highland, Utah. No problem I thought. Grabbed the 400 f/2,8 pool lens and headed down for the day.

Following His Shot:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Mark Strickland watches his drive from the 5th tee during final day of the 40th Bellingham Amateur Golf Tournament  at Lake Padden Golf Course on Monday Sept. 1, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Mark Strickland watches his drive from the 5th tee during final day of the 40th Bellingham Amateur Golf Tournament at Lake Padden Golf Course on Monday Sept. 1, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

When I got there, I met the reporter and we grabbed a cart. Lugging my  F5 with a 400 f/2,8 attached was not my idea of fun. Anywho.  During one particular putt, Todd Tanner was up and as he was getting ready, I accidentally hit the shutter button. He looked at me while pointing his club and gave me a stern look.  Thoroughly embarrassing.

Studying the Green:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Tom Kenny lines up his putt on the 4th green during the final day of the 40th Bellingham Amateur Golf Tournament  at Lake Padden Golf Course on Monday Sept. 1, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Tom Kenny lines up his putt on the 4th green during the final day of the 40th Bellingham Amateur Golf Tournament at Lake Padden Golf Course on Monday Sept. 1, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

This happened a few times during the day. But, good thing was that the golfers became used to me. And I got what I thought at the time was a great shot. Until I showed it to my photo editor. He just said “nice shot. I get 2 or 3 of those a day.”  My ego was quickly deflated.

But I did learn a lot shooting. To put it simply, the most important thing I learned was to be patient.

Driving

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Mark Strickland watches his drive off the 6th tee head down the fairway during the final day of the 40th Bellingham Amateur Golf Tournament  at Lake Padden Golf Course on Monday Sept. 1, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Mark Strickland watches his drive off the 6th tee head down the fairway during the final day of the 40th Bellingham Amateur Golf Tournament at Lake Padden Golf Course on Monday Sept. 1, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

As for equipment, longer glass is necessary. For this shoot, I used a Nikon 400mm f/2.8 lens on a Nikon D3s. I kept my 80-200 f/2.8 on my D300s (which made it equivalent to a 300mm), my short glass was in my camera bag as well as and SB-910 strobe, SC-29 off-camera cord, and lens cleaning supplies. 

So to sum it up, here are a few things you need when shooting golf:

  • A golf cart – Don’t try to lug your gear nine holes. You’ll quickly get tired.
  • Patience – You probably won’t get a shot until the 3rd or 4th hole. Keep shooting.
  • Long glass (golf is not a wide-angle feature fest) – 300mm or longer.
  • Knowledge of the players – Not just who’s leading, but who has a stronger short game, who drives the longest, etc,
  • Awareness of your surroundings – Don’t wander onto another hole, quickly leave the green after your done, golf balls heading your way
  • Plenty of water and a few snacks – You will be outside usually on a very warm day so stay hydrated. You will need to keep your energy up.

Salvaging From Bad Luck:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - John Mlikotic watches Mark Strickland escape a sand trap near the 6th green during the final day of the 40th Bellingham Amateur Golf Tournament  at Lake Padden Golf Course on Monday Sept. 1, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – John Mlikotic watches Mark Strickland escape a sand trap near the 6th green during the final day of the 40th Bellingham Amateur Golf Tournament at Lake Padden Golf Course on Monday Sept. 1, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash. After a string of bad luck, Strickland scored a double bogey.

As I get better at photographing golf, it is becoming more fun to shoot. As for playing it? Naw. If I want to go for a walk, I’ll head to the mountains and hike. Not really my sport.

To the Green:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - John Mlikotic drives one to the 5th hole green during the final day of the 40th Bellingham Amateur Golf Tournament  at Lake Padden Golf Course on Monday Sept. 1, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – John Mlikotic drives one to the 5th green during the final day of the 40th Bellingham Amateur Golf Tournament at Lake Padden Golf Course on Monday Sept. 1, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

For more images from the tournament, please visit my gallery “40th annual Bellingham Amateur.”

For more of my sports images, please visit my gallery “The Games We Play.”

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on these various Social Networks:

  1. Follow Me on Google+
  2. “Like” my Page on Facebook
  3. Follow me on Twitter
  4. Follow me on Pinterest

Paul Conrad is an award-winning, nationally and internationally published freelance photographer living in Bellingham, Wash., in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazine throughout the United States and in Europe.

His specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings. He is available for assignments.

Advertisements

Please Feel free to Leave a Comment. Links to Your Work are Encouraged

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s