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|| News Item: Posted 2010-11-11

A Student’s Learning Experience at the Ryder Cup

By Harry Engels

Photo by Harry Engels

Photo by Harry Engels

03.10.2010 The opening day of the 38th Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor. Ian Poulter of Team Europe tees off at the 17th.
About a week before the Ryder Cup was due to start I got an email from my editor saying they may be able to get me a pass. I know next to nothing about golf but was obviously very excited at the prospect of shooting the biggest golf event in the world. It was by the far the biggest event I had ever covered and probably will be for quite a few years to come.

The last time I photographed golf was on the course next to my school with a few mates so it would be a bit of a step up to the Ryder Cup! Talk about jumping in at the deep end...

Although I was very excited at the prospect of working along side some of the best photographers in the world I was also quite worried and nervous. Not only about golf photography etiquette that I'd only read about online (big thanks to the Sports Shooter message board!) but also about getting in the way of other, much more experienced, photographers.

Keeping this in mind I spent the morning of the first day following a pack of photographers from hole to hole. I was obviously taking pictures but I was also watching how the others worked, where they stood and just basically what they did. Having never shot a pro golf tournament before I was careful not to get in anyone’s way or piss anyone off.

I know I'm too young to give advice but I can recommend to anyone who's shooting an event in which they feel out of their depth, to really play it safe. Listen to everything you're told to do and make sure you do it. If you have the slightest doubt about something, just ask someone who knows. If you're not sure where you can stand, ask a photographer, steward or media rep. The last thing you want is to be in the wrong place and anger the wrong person.

Now the main problem I encountered was the weather. As you may know it rained pretty much solidly for the first day and for big parts of the 2nd and 3rd.

Photo by Harry Engels

Photo by Harry Engels

02.10.2010 The second day of the 38th Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor. Tiger Woods of Team USA hits out the rough.
Having not really shot in the rain much before I didn't have any proper rain covers and my home made versions did not hold up well. By the end of the first day my 300 wasn't focusing properly and so I spent days 2 and 3 of the competition shooting with just a 70-200.

Two things to be learned here:
1. Invest in proper rain covers, they are expensive but they'll keep your gear dry and working and

2. Just because you don't have the best equipment doesn't mean you can't take decent pictures. You can actually get a lot closer to the action in golf than you think so this wasn't too much of an issue.

Photo by Harry Engels

Photo by Harry Engels

02.10.2010 The second day of the 38th Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor. Edoardo Molinari of Team Europe celebrates holing a putt.
Luckily my 300mm started working again by the last day and I was able to plan out a shot I'd been thinking of for a while. Because I was working for a pretty small agency I decided to take a risk on the last day and go for a different shot on the penultimate hole.

There would be no point me having an identical photo to the Getty guy next to me as mine would never get used. I therefore chose to shoot the 16th from the top of the hill overlooking the green to get a wide view. McDowell birdied the hole to take Europe within range of victory and celebrated wildly. Sadly he didn't turn towards me but oh well.

Bob Martin of SI was the only other photographer (I think) who had a similar sort of shot so I like to think that at least I came away from the Ryder Cup with a slightly unique image.

Overall my four days at the Ryder Cup were by far the most exciting of my career so far. I loved trudging round in the rain shooting some of the best golfers in the world. It seemed so worth getting up at 5 and going to bed at 12. Maybe this gets tiresome after you've done it for 30 years but for me it was a completely new experience and one I enjoyed greatly.

Harry Engles is a student at Bristol University in the U.K. You can see a cool video on his experiences at last spring’s Sports Shooter Academy at the workshop’s website: .

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