The Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre thrived from 1990 - 2006 in the heart of Buckhead, where Roswell Road meets Peachtree and West Paces Ferry. After its closing, It reopened as The Buckhead Theatre in 2010, but with a new digital marquee that does not inspire this photographer. The Coca-Cola Roxy recently made a comeback at The Battery at SunTrust Park.
Ponte Vedra Inn & Club
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
I have always been intrigued by the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, having grown up in Jacksonville and driving by many times over the years, make that decades. My recent and first official visit did not disappoint, as its historic charms exceeded my expectations. There is a timeless quality to this seaside resort, featuring old-fashioned (but nicely updated) motel rooms that open right on to the beach. No long walk or bike ride needed to get to the beach, just take a few (like three or four!) steps out the back door and your toes are in the sand. And the golf is good and fun, with 36 holes offered on the Ocean and Lagoon courses. Word is that the Ocean will soon undergo a major renovation by Bobby Weed, so the golf should soon be even better.
Kingsbarns Golf Links
St Andrews, Scotland
As an incredible month long run of links golf continues, it’s hard not to have the great courses of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland remain fresh on my mind. Above is one of my favorite photographs from scenic Kingsbarns in St Andrews, Scotland.
As a refresher course, here is what good fortune has allowed us to enjoy:
The 2019 British Women’s Open heads inland to Woburn Golf Club, so a fifth week of links golf is not be this year.
As a comparison, during this same time period the PGA Tour has visited TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, MN, TPC Deere Run in Silvis, IL, Keene Trace GC in Nicholasville, KY, and this week offers two tournaments, TPC Southwind in Memphis and Montreaux G&CC in Reno. That is not an inspiring run, as American golf fans have been TPCed to death.
I know which tournaments I’ve been viewing.
I’m not sure TV actually does it justice. So as you are watching today’s final round of The British Open at Royal Portrush, here is the tee shot the players will face on the Par-3 Sixteenth known as “Calamity Corner”. And don’t forget that the hole can play as long as 236 yards, but credit the R&A for moving the tee up for the final round as severe wind and rain is in the forecast.
And what happens if you come up short and right? I found out the hard way in 2012, as you can see below.
MORE PHOTOGRAPHS FROM ROYAL PORTRUSH
Portraits of all eighteen holes of Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown course. Each photograph was made during the final round of the 2019 Georgia Amateur Championship.
Congratulations to Jonathan Keppler on his victory in the 2019 Georgia Amateur Championship at Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek course. Keppler is a native of a Marietta, a recent Florida State grad, and the son of local golf professional Stephen Keppler. And from the sound of his post-round interview, it sounds like he will soon give professional golf a go.
One thing is for sure, Settindown does not produce fluke winners, and Keppler stayed at or near the top through all four rounds. The course seemed to play tougher each day, with only 8 of 142 rounds on the weekend under par, with none in the 60s. To put the difficulty in perspective, Keppler shot 74-73 over the weekend and actually extended his lead.
In the end, his fast start of 68-66 set the tone for a winning score of -7, three strokes clear of Ansley’s Club Champion Tim Shaetzel, who birdied the final four holes in furious fashion to finish at -4, close enough to make Keppler think hard about the challenging tee shot at the Par-4 18th hole. But it was Keppler’s series of gritty par puts in the final round that made the difference. Only three other players finished the tournament under par, as Settindown once again flexed its muscles as a thorough test of golf.
Stay tuned for photographs of the final round coming soon.
Ansley Golf Club - Settindown Creek
2005 U.S. Women’s Amateur
The third round of the Georgia Amateur Championship starts today, and if history tells us anything, it’s that Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown course will identify a worthy champion. If a tournament venue is judged the quality of its champions, then Settindown is one of the finest.
Its championship pedigree started in 1995 and 1996 with the hosting of the Nike Tour Championship. And whatever you think of the recent Betsy Ross shoe controversy, Nike Tour has a hell of a lot better ring to it than Korn Ferry Tour. Those two titles were won by local players Allen Doyle and Stewart Cink, and of course both went on to PGA Tour success.
In 2005, Settindown hosted the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. At the time, there were two young amateur stars in women’s golf, Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie. Wie blew it off, instead choosing to play in a professional tournament, depriving the possibility of an epic showdown that would have been big for women’s golf. But Pressel came and emerged the champion.
The above photo shows her holing out for eagle from 100 yards on the 10th hole of Saturday’s semifinal match. The two photos below show the photographs I made of Maru Martinez on the 8th green just a few seconds before and after Morgan’s eagle. This demonstrates the importance of casting a wide net when photographing tournament golf. Your head better be on a swivel, or you just might miss something cool.
Ansley Golf Club - Settindown Creek
The Georgia Amateur Championship returns today to Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek golf course for the third time. The top amateur players will be there. That’s a group I used to include myself in (even if no one else did!), as a former version of my golfing self regularly competed in all GSGA events, including this championship exactly twenty years ago.
And then Settindown happened. Specifically, the Eighteenth at Settindown happened.
And it was there, some time in the mid-2000s, that my golfing life was divided in half. I came to the final hole of a three day tournament, having not played particularly well, and certainly with no chance of winning. I teed the ball up with high hopes, and fourteen strokes later, I picked the ball out of the hole. Well, not the same ball. It helps to lose one or two if you are going to make a fourteen.
I realize now that I was playing golf with only one real concern: the number on the scorecard. I had it all wrong for so many years. I wanted to play the hardest courses, from the longest tees, and then judge the experience only by a final number. But as Chris Lewis once told us: The Scorecard Always Lies. I was always interested enough in golf course architecture to recognize that a Donald Ross course was classic and fun and strategic, and a Rees Jones course was not, but it was still all about the score.
That fourteen liberated me. Instead of being angry and embarrassed, I had a beer and laughed it off, regaling friends with a shot-by-shot tale of the fourteen. I may have played a tournament or two after the fourteen, but that was the day I transitioned from competitive to recreational golfer. And then I soon began making golf photographs, and through the lens the true spirit of the game began to reveal itself to me. It’s a story that continues to unravel, a story I’m still trying to tell through pictures.
I like to think that my tournament photographs are informed by my history of playing competitive golf. I know what the players are going through. I recognize the tension and challenge and doubt that tournament golf promises. And I also recognize the exhilarations, big and small, along the way. I have documented many victories, some of them major, but it’s the in between moments that are most intriguing.
I look forward to walking the fairways on Saturday and Sunday at this years Georgia Am, with a camera instead of clubs. And that’s the great thing for me about photographing rather than competing: I’m guaranteed to make it to the weekend!