I had the opportunity to photograph the 100th PGA Championship in St. Louis a couple of weeks ago. It was fun to witness a return to form by Tiger Woods, feeling like we were back in 2002 or so, with the roars of the crowd echoing throughout the course and the crowds filling what seemed like every available inch of space along the fairways.
But that's not the only thing that made this major different from many of the ones I've done over the past couple of years. For this one, my client wasn't a magazine or a governing body, but rather the host, Bellerive Country Club. As such I had to combine the idea of normal golf coverage with the knowledge that I was doing this for the club, making images for them that, down the road, will help its membership recall what it was like to host the event--what the course looked like, how things were different, how the members helped pull off an event on such a grand scale.
The golf course itself is, of course, the most important part of any championship, so I thought it important to get out with superintendent Carlos Arraya's staff early one morning to document their preparations. At 4:30 a.m. I attended the morning staff meeting, and then we went to work. For a time the only light anywhere--save from mover headlights and the workers' headlamps--came from the giant video board at the 18th.
Having the host club as a client also meant I had to shift my priorities in terms of what I tried to get in the frame, and what I didn't. And it's not the easiest thing to do, overriding decades of mental cues and by now instinctive content decisions in my pictures. I mean, I've spent over 20 years trying to keep course marshals and other volunteers out of my frames. Only this week, having them in them, as part of an overall attempt at trying to show the membership experience, was kind of the point!