DAWN PATROL

DAWN PATROL

The 4 a.m. (-ish) wake-up call sucks, but it's worth it.

When I cover a golf tournament, I try to devote at least one day to an early-morning excursion to the golf course. It's kind of weird, being the first person in the media center, christening the coffee maker and putting gear together before the driving range even opens up for the morning. 

It's an odd feeling of being alone, at peace as you wander the seemingly empty grounds, cup of coffee in hand, wondering what pictures the morning will bring. But once you walk out on to the course--no matter how serene, no matter how empty, you realize you're not alone. A brief flicker of light through the trees--that's a mower on a green across the course somewhere. A tumbling rumble of golf balls being dumped into a bucket off in the distance tells you the volunteers are here, getting things ready for the players yet to arrive--or so you think, until you turn the corner and come to the practice green, where a lone player and his caddie are rolling in a few putts to start the day in the dim light of the clubhouse porch.

You never know what you'll find on the dawn patrol--the people, the light, the colors. And that's what makes it my favorite time of the day out on the course.

  Tiger Woods and Steve Williams, 2008 WGC Match Play Championship. .  Dove Mountain Resort  , Marana, Arizona.  Canon 1D Mark II, Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L

Tiger Woods and Steve Williams, 2008 WGC Match Play Championship.. Dove Mountain Resort, Marana, Arizona. Canon 1D Mark II, Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L

  Practice green, 2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. .  Jupiter Hills Club, Tequesta, Florida.  Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

Practice green, 2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship.. Jupiter Hills Club, Tequesta, Florida. Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

  2016 Dick's Sporting Goods catalog shoot,   Grand Cypress Resort, Orlando, Florida.  Sony A7rII, Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux

2016 Dick's Sporting Goods catalog shoot, Grand Cypress Resort, Orlando, Florida. Sony A7rII, Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux

  Measuring out a hole location, 2012 U.S. Open Championship .  The Olympic Club, San Francisco, California . Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

Measuring out a hole location, 2012 U.S. Open Championship. The Olympic Club, San Francisco, California. Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

  USGA Executive Director Mike Davis sets the tee markers at the 12th hole, 2016 U.S. Open Championship .  Oakmont CC, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania . Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

USGA Executive Director Mike Davis sets the tee markers at the 12th hole, 2016 U.S. Open Championship. Oakmont CC, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

  USGA agronomist Chris Hartwiger measures green speed, 2014 U.S. Open Championship .  Pinehurst #2, Pinehurst, North Carolina . Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

USGA agronomist Chris Hartwiger measures green speed, 2014 U.S. Open Championship. Pinehurst #2, Pinehurst, North Carolina. Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

  10th green, 2015 Valero Texas Open. .  JW Marriott Hill Country Resort, San Antonio, Texas.  Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

10th green, 2015 Valero Texas Open.. JW Marriott Hill Country Resort, San Antonio, Texas. Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

  Driving range, 2007 U.S. Open Championship. .  Oakmont Country Club, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Canon 1D Mark II, Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L

Driving range, 2007 U.S. Open Championship.. Oakmont Country Club, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Canon 1D Mark II, Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L

  Driving range, 2015 Valero Texas Open. .  JW Marriott Hill Country Resort, San Antonio, Texas.  Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

Driving range, 2015 Valero Texas Open.. JW Marriott Hill Country Resort, San Antonio, Texas. Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

  Driving range, 2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. .  Jupiter Hills Club, Tequesta, Florida.  Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

Driving range, 2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship.. Jupiter Hills Club, Tequesta, Florida. Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

  Adam Scott on the practice green, 2017 Presidents Cup matches. .  Liberty National GC, Jersey City, New Jersey . Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

Adam Scott on the practice green, 2017 Presidents Cup matches.. Liberty National GC, Jersey City, New Jersey. Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

  Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar, 2017 Presidents Cup matches. .  Liberty National GC, Jersey City, New Jersey . Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar, 2017 Presidents Cup matches.. Liberty National GC, Jersey City, New Jersey. Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

  Olivia Herrick, 2017 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur Championship. .  Champions GC, Houston, TX . Canon 1DX, Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L

Olivia Herrick, 2017 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur Championship.. Champions GC, Houston, TX. Canon 1DX, Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L

  Driving range, 2015 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. .  The Olympic Club, San Francisco, California.  Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

Driving range, 2015 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship.. The Olympic Club, San Francisco, California. Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

  Driving range, 2016 U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball Championship. . Streamsong Resort, Bowling Green, Florida . Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

Driving range, 2016 U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball Championship..Streamsong Resort, Bowling Green, Florida. Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

  Driving range, 2017 U.S. Women's Open Championship. .  Trump Bedminster Golf Club, Bedminster, New Jersey.  Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

Driving range, 2017 U.S. Women's Open Championship.. Trump Bedminster Golf Club, Bedminster, New Jersey. Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

  7th green, Stonebriar CC. .Frisco , Texas, 2017.  Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

7th green, Stonebriar CC..Frisco, Texas, 2017. Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

  17th green, 2018 Players Championship. .  TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  Sony A9, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 G-Master

17th green, 2018 Players Championship.. TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Sony A9, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 G-Master

  Martin Flores, 2015 Wyndham Championship. .  Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro, North Carolina.  Canon 1DX, Canon EF 400mm f2.8L II

Martin Flores, 2015 Wyndham Championship.. Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro, North Carolina. Canon 1DX, Canon EF 400mm f2.8L II

  2015 Golf Galaxy catalog shoot,   Grand Cypress Resort, Orlando, Florida.  Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

2015 Golf Galaxy catalog shoot, Grand Cypress Resort, Orlando, Florida. Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

  Golf shop, 2005 Masters Tournament. . Augusta National Golf   Club, Augusta, Georgia.  Canon 1D, Canon EF 17-35mm f2.8L

Golf shop, 2005 Masters Tournament..Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia. Canon 1D, Canon EF 17-35mm f2.8L

  Ryann O'Toole gets ready for U.S. Open Sectional qualifying. .  Lakewood CC, Dallas, Texas.  Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L

Ryann O'Toole gets ready for U.S. Open Sectional qualifying.. Lakewood CC, Dallas, Texas. Canon 1DX, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L