PRIVATE GOLF CLUBS, INTERNATIONAL
One of the highlights of being a professional golf course photographer is international travel. It can be a bit grueling to take a 20 hour flight to shoot golf courses in Asia, but the payoff is amazing. I have found that golf has its own language, and so does international travel.
On my first trip to China, I photographed two courses in Beijing, designed by Rick Robbins, and another of Rick’s designs in Wuhan… yes, that Wuhan… and nobody spoke English. Nobody. I wasn’t in tourist areas where one might expect to find at least a few English speakers. I was at private clubs. And when I traveled on the High Speed Rail from Beijing to Wuhan, I was on my own. But I enjoyed the experience thoroughly. With no shared language, communication became a matter of clumsy sign language, laughter and pantomime. Incredible fun.
When I arrived in Wuhan to photograph Yishan Golf Club, I stepped off the train into the huge train station without a clue where I would be picked up. Naturally, I stuck out like a sore thumb, so everyone recognized me as needing assistance. Smiles, pointed fingers and one young, English-speaking Chinese woman who approached me to offer assistance got me to the pickup location. Clearly, the train station experience had nothing to do with golf, but it was a part of the experience of international golf photography that makes it such a joy.
At Yishan Golf Club, there were two English speakers. The General Manager spoke excellent English, and a young woman who worked the front desk at the club’s on site hotel, spoke a little. Zhong Hua was her name, and we spent a lot of time using a Mandarin to English translator on her laptop, discovering that Mandarin and English are very different, and translator software bridges the gap clumsily. We laughed endlessly at the results. But a connection was made and we’ve managed to stay loosely in touch ever since.
Hong Kong Golf Club was a very different story. As a former British protectorate, most people spoke English, but it was an incredible experience to photograph the club’s 3 18-hole courses and one 9 holer. It was a great photo shoot, in spite of the heat, the oppressive humidity and the mosquitos, but once again, I made friends I stay in touch with still. What’s not to love?
I hope you can see a little of the joy I felt shooting and editing these projects in these photographs.
Copyright 2008-2023, Dave Sansom