This is an opinion piece I was asked to write for a golf magazine about photography. I wonder if anyone read it?
Golf course photography is what I do. It’s my passion, it’s my career and it pays for my kids’ shoes. It is also a fundamental part of golf’s marketing arsenal. It sells the sport better than any other form of promotion, and yet golf clubs boke at the idea of paying for professionally taken golf course photography. Why?
I know times are tough and penny pinching is at an all-time high, but this attitude has existed for years. It revolves around the notion that it’s better to get one of the members to take shots than pay for them. This commonly held belief is short-sighted at best and potentially ruinous at worst. You wouldn’t let your members take their Flymos to the greens would you?
In fact, rather than saving a bob or two, it can actually cost the club revenue. Relying on a member with a point-and-shoot to do what a pro has taken years to perfect can result in bland, featureless images that do little to stir the golfer’s imagination. Without pictorially induced longing, few will want to play. Fewer still will want to join.
I have shot golf courses all around the world and one of the trends I’ve noticed is that premier league clubs and resorts rarely boke at paying for good-quality imagery. There are exceptions, but generally they see it as an investment that will inspire visitors and maintain their lofty position. Another is that new golf developments eager to draw attention to their attributes readily add photography to their must-do lists.
If the big boys and new kids rely on it, why should photography be such an after-thought for everyone else? At a time when attracting visitors and maintaining members are high on everyone’s agenda, shouldn’t photography also be?