Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Royal Curragh in a Perfect Light

Royal Curragh Golf Club 14
The par three 14th hole... golfer on the tee
Taking photographs of golf courses calls for patience. Lots of it. And patience has never been my strong suit on a golf course. But combining my passions of golf and photography has given me a different insight into the game. It has made me respect the beauty of a classic golf course and the natural landscape that flows around you. That breeds patience... and devotion.

This was certainly the case the other afternoon when I visited Royal Curragh Golf Club, to take a few photographs - and to take one in particular that will, I hope, grace the pages of Golf Monthly in the next few months. There is much to admire about Ireland's oldest golf course. Those crumpled fairways, those short, sharp hills and that blazing gorse give the place a unique feel.

Sheep crowd the road by the 14th green
And then there are the sheep. They are no longer free to roam this 'common land', but they are ever-present in corrals alongside holes. And at 5.30pm on the dot, a local farmer took his herd along the road that divides the course, heading for the open, common spaces that exist beyond the course's borders. Cars were stuck in line as he and his dog herded them along, going at his own sweet pace. It was a wonderful sight.

The sun was out and behaving spectacularly for the camera, but you still have to be patient. Maybe it will take five minutes for the sun to hit that bunker and cast a crucial shadow that highlights the shapes around it, or perhaps you'll need ten minutes before it lights up the flag to bring a distant green to life... and maybe it will take an hour. Maybe you'll have to wait for another day. But, when you get the shot you've been hoping for, it makes the time disappear. It even makes you forget that you're on a golf course in perfect weather and not swinging a club. At Royal Curragh I got lucky with several shots... like the one below. I walked onto the tee, set up and the light did everything I could have asked of it in the space of two minutes. And it helps that it's such a spectacular opening hole.

Royal Curragh Golf Club 1
One of those beautiful opening holes, with a glorious vista and
a tee shot you just have to nail.
For the Full Set of Royal Curragh Photographs, follow the link.

There are many golf photographers I admire - Aidan Bradley,  Kevin Murray and Mark Alexander among them, but Larry Lambrecht is someone whose work I grew up with and this quote (from his website) sums up the joy and beauty of photographing the best courses in the world.

"As a golfer and artist I chose the perspective of the architect's plan for playing the hole, capturing the hole as you play it and remember it." 
Larry Lambrecht

One final note to mention, and it's an important one. Next time you visit, look across to the clubhouse from the 14th tee box... then look further left to the woods on the horizon. When you next watch Braveheart and Mel Gibson mooning the English soldiers, this is the spot from where it was done.

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