Darren CarrollComment

2018 PGA Championship

Darren CarrollComment
2018 PGA Championship

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.

Tiger Woods tees off on the 10th hole (his first of the day) in round one.  (Sony A7r3, Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux)

Tiger Woods tees off on the 10th hole (his first of the day) in round one. (Sony A7r3, Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux)

Rickie Fowler tees off on the 12th during the final round.  (Sony A9, Sony 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM-OSS)

Rickie Fowler tees off on the 12th during the final round. (Sony A9, Sony 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM-OSS)

Volunteer scorers walk down the 18th fairway.  (Sony A7r3, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM)

Volunteer scorers walk down the 18th fairway. (Sony A7r3, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM)

Yes, it was very, very crowded.  (Sony A9, Sony 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM-OSS)

Yes, it was very, very crowded. (Sony A9, Sony 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM-OSS)

Tiger Woods putts on the 9th green during Thursday's first round.  (Sony A7r3, Leica 21mm f2.8 Elmarit)

Tiger Woods putts on the 9th green during Thursday's first round. (Sony A7r3, Leica 21mm f2.8 Elmarit)

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The Merchandise Pavilion and main entrance promenade, both built atop a giant platform constructed about 30 feet above what would normally be Bellerive's main driveway.  (Sony A7r3, Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux)

The Merchandise Pavilion and main entrance promenade, both built atop a giant platform constructed about 30 feet above what would normally be Bellerive's main driveway. (Sony A7r3, Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux)

Mike "Fluff" Cowan, Jim Furyk's caddie, waits for his man in what is normally the club's pool area.  (Sony A9, Sony 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM-OSS)

Mike "Fluff" Cowan, Jim Furyk's caddie, waits for his man in what is normally the club's pool area. (Sony A9, Sony 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM-OSS)

Speaking of Bellerive's pool, it was transformed into a hospitality area.  (Sony A7r3, Leica 21mm f2.8 Elmarit)

Speaking of Bellerive's pool, it was transformed into a hospitality area. (Sony A7r3, Leica 21mm f2.8 Elmarit)

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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.

18th green, about 5 in the morning.  (Sony A9, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 G-Master)

18th green, about 5 in the morning. (Sony A9, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 G-Master)

A member of the maintenance staff waters at the 18th green early in the morning before round two..  (Sony A9, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 G-Master)

A member of the maintenance staff waters at the 18th green early in the morning before round two.. (Sony A9, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 G-Master)

Members of the maintenance staff tend to a bunker at the 18th early in the morning before round two..  (Sony A9, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 G-Master)

Members of the maintenance staff tend to a bunker at the 18th early in the morning before round two.. (Sony A9, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 G-Master)

Members of the maintenance staff prepare the 10th early in the morning before round two.  (Sony A9, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 G-Master)

Members of the maintenance staff prepare the 10th early in the morning before round two. (Sony A9, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 G-Master)

Tiger Woods lines up a putt on the 16th during Thursday's first round.  (Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM)

Tiger Woods lines up a putt on the 16th during Thursday's first round. (Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM)

Justin Thomas tees off at the 17th.  (Sony A9, Sony 400mm f2.8 GM-OSS)

Justin Thomas tees off at the 17th. (Sony A9, Sony 400mm f2.8 GM-OSS)

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!

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