How to take good golf course photographs

11 February 2020 Feature Article

Picture by Aiden Wright

Camberley Heath is a perennial favourite in BIGGA’s photographic calendar, so where better to go to get tips about how to take good photographs of your golf course? 

The Surrey venue is a fixture within England’s Top 100 courses and the mixture of heathland and parkland, coupled with photogenic water features and a mild southern climate make it among the most picturesque courses in the country. Ross Jones, 34, is course manager and he explained why he encourages his greenkeepers to take and share images of the golf course - both the good and the bad.

Ross said: “I always say to the guys that everyone gets caught up in the pressures in the morning of getting things done ahead of golf, but you really have got to take the time to stop and look back at what you’ve done. It’s good to see the team taking photographs and posting them online or submitting them for the photographic competition. For me that shows an appreciation of what they’re doing and an enjoyment of the job.

“Taking photographs also helps us keep a track of what we’ve been doing. The alterations to the course are so long term that you just get used to them. But then you look back at old pictures and you realise what a massive change you’ve brought about, so photographs really are key.

"One thing I’ve noticed is people putting their worst pictures online, or images of drought or disease around the course. I think you can get a false expectation of a club if every picture you post is calendar-worthy and so I think it’s good to put up some realistic ones every now and then. Even during the drought in 2018, it didn’t matter whether you were a high-end club or not because it affected everyone and images on social media brought people together." 

Image by Aiden Wright

How to take good golf course photographs

1. Notice the light. Sunrise or sunset are best as they cast shadows across the course and provide contrast and contours that are otherwise hidden when the sun is overhead. But these aren’t the only times when you can take good photographs, so be aware of the light at all times, including when the weather is changing.

2. Provide a focal point for your photograph. On the golf course, this will almost certainly be the flag. If there’s a certain hole you want to capture, walk in a circle around the green until you find the best background to the flag, where the light is just right

3. Use height. By taking a picture from as high as possible, the entire hole will open up before you and you’ll see the shape of bunkers and greens better than at ground level. Use a ladder, climb a hill or, best of all, invest in a drone.

Image by Charlie Lacey

4. Take lots of images. If you snap one photograph you may be lucky, but more likely the flag will be folded up so you can’t see your club logo. Take loads of images and you’ll have more to work with. This goes for different images around the course – keep snapping and you’ll have a better selection.

5. Use filters within reason. Filters on Instagram or even professional photo editing are really useful tools. Every professional photographer does it to elevate their images, so you should too. But be careful not to over-process. You want to provide a realistic image of the course, not one with luminous green grass or completely divot-free fairways.

The BIGGA Photographic Competition is open to BIGGA members, with the winner announced in the December edition of Greenkeeper International each year.

Author

Karl Hansell
BIGGA | Communications Executive

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