CUTLINE: Charl Schwartzel of South Africa reacts to sinking a putt on the 18th green to cap an impressive -14 par during four rounds of golf at Augusta National. Schwartzel, 26, downed Jason Day by two strokes.
So this is the SS.com article I wrote for this coming week. I figured no one will read it so it’s not like I’m spoiling anything.
Golf is like watching paint dry. Golf is no photographing the back swing. Golf is no talking. Golf is having a dress code. Golf is golf clapping. Golf is making your way through crowds to see the “action.” Golf is on your feet all day. Golf is a long drawn out marathon. Golf is sunburn, despite SPF45. Golf is five frames every 10 minutes. Golf is seeing green all, day, long.
Yes, a majority of us have been there. “You have a golf assignment today,” your editor tells you. You cringe for a moment, accept it, and realize you’ll be on the links trying to pinpoint X player and have to zoom in on the tags of their bag to get an identification. On top of that you have to orient yourself on a golf course you’ve never been (half the time without a map) and bone up on your golf lingo when your write your cutlines. Yes, it’s easy to get frustrated with, considering it looks similar photographically over and over again. It’s a sport easy to hate because it has “lack of action” and small window for moments.
But you know what? Depsite all the negatives of golf, the dividends of patients make golf worth it.
Golf is full of features. Moments. Faces. Passion. And here in Augusta, Georgia, golf is king.
Yes, it’s clearly easier to photograph when it’s the quintessential golf tournament in the world, but it still requires the photographic patients and discipline learned at the average-level tournaments.
Lefty, Tiger, Fuzzy, Walrus, Tank. Sounds more like a good punch line to a joke. But these are just some of the people competing for something more than a green jacket, they are competing for legendary status. For one week, I was privileged to witness it all.
The Masters Tournament is unlike any sporting event on earth. The city shifts business, hotel rates quadruple and the students take a spring break. The world, even if you aren’t a fan of golf is interested who will win. Kinda like the Kentucky Derby; I’m no equine enthusiast, but each year when it comes along, I pay attention. The same goes for the Masters Tournament.
This year was my second coverage of the event. I felt more comfortable than last because I was learning the lay of the course, who’s who and what’s what my “rookie” year. This year I felt more comfortable being familiar with faces and orientation. Playing Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’12 on Xbox didn’t hurt either.
Each morning we powwowed to talk about the “shopping list” of people and items to be photographed. After that was accomplished a team of five shooters, equipped with card runners, coordinated holes to cover in a team effort. Radios with stealthy earpieces was the only way to communicate and efficient despite itching your ear profusely at the end of the day.
The sun beats down on you hard as you make images. Sweat rolls off your back and despite sunblock, you end up burnt. Sip, sip from the camelback. Click, click from the camera. Card runner scribble, scribble as they mark the tan envelope. Card drop. Editors edit. Radio to next hole. Repeat.
By the third or fourth day it becomes methodical. By the last two days you’re in the zone and doing it in your sleep. Nights, you hit the pillow hard. The routine is up at 5:30 a.m. and work 10-14 hour days for a full week.
In the end, Hollywood couldn’t have scripted a better story. Rory McIlroy imploding, Tiger showing his stripes again and Charl Schwartzel winning on the 50th anniversary since Gary Player, a fellow South African player, won as the first international competitor. We were frantically changing game plans over the radio as seven players were at the top of the leaderboard approaching the last six or seven holes. When the dust settled and Schwartzel surged, another Masters was in the books. Slip on the green jacket, click, click, clack, clack. Done. Collapse. Sleep.
Camera data: 125mm, f/2.8, ISO 200, 1/2000 second
Date Taken: 10-Apr-2011 18:48:29