Have you ever browsed Leadingcourses.com and stumbled across golf course pictures that made you excited to hit the course right away? Big chance these pictures were not made by your average Leadingcourses user, but by a professional photographer. Time to speak with the people behind the pictures. This time we spoke to US photographer Patrick Koenig (age 38). His mission is to share his stories, excitement and love for the game of golf with others.
Who is Patrick Koenig?
I am an avid golfer living in Seattle who loves to capture some of the outstanding moments I encounter on the golf course. I play out of Chambers Bay in Washington state and I currently carry a 4 handicap. Golfing is my passion and I have played and photographed a number of the country’s most famous golf courses. All in all it’s my mission to share my stories, excitement and love for the game of golf with others. Hopefully, my experiences will in some way enhance yours. I’m also founder of the RGV Tour, touring the country playing golf to raise money for the First Tee.
I decided to become a golf course photographer, because I love being out on the golf course so much and I would always look for a way to take that experience with me when it was time to leave. It’s just a great way to get a souvenir. I’m actually a photographer ever since I was 14 years old, but professionally I’m doing it for 5 years now. I use a Nikon D7500 camera.
We’re Leadingcourses, so we need to talk about golf courses first. Which course(s) do you love?
There are so many great courses with different strengths. A few that come to mind are Cabot Cliffs, Royal County Down, and Merion. NGLA (National Golf Links of America) is also a personal favorite. Probably one of the most underrated courses is The Prairie Club in Nebraska. It is out of the way, but offers 36 championship holes and a horse course that is as fun as anything you have played. It is a pure golf experience in the Sand Hills of Nebraska.
What is the best golf course you ever photographed?
Chambers Bay is easily one of the most scenic courses and I would argue that hole 15 is the most scenic par 3 in existence. The Straits Course at Whistling Straits (note: this the future site of the 2020 Ryder Cup) is also a playground for photography with all of the dunes and unique vantage points.
On which course did you take your best photographs?
So much of landscape photography depends on being there at the right moment. I had some good fortune with lighting during our round at North Berwick in Scotland. Those photos turned out great. You can check out these photos in an article of GolfDigest. But I do not have a best photo. Instead of that, I have more of a collection of photographs that I really like. As a photographer, it’s tough to be fully satisfied with your work, as just the tiniest detail could have always been slightly better. But that’s the fun part, you are always out there chasing better and more exciting photographs.
What is the most challenging thing about photographing a golf course?
The lighting is so key and on a good day, you may only have a good 1-2 hours of really unique lighting. You have to make those moments count and be in the right spots to capture the images that you are looking for.
Do you approach a golf course differently than a regular golfer?
Absolutely. Instead of looking at how a green might break, I am considering the angle from that hill over there and how it might look with the current lighting, or maybe if I run up that rise over there I can get those bunkers perfectly in the foreground. That’s something a normal golfer does not think of.
What makes a photo of a golf course great? Do you have an example?
It helps to have a great golf course, but it’s not always necessary. The best golf photos capture the beauty that one feels standing in a particular spot. The lighting and sky play critical roles in any great course photo. The composition is also something that I see a lot of beginners struggle with and it can sometimes be a challenge to get all of the critical components of the shot in the proper spots. The photo below of Golf De Saint Cloud on Instagram brings all of those things together.
How can a course benefit from having professional photos?
This is something that I think a lot of golf clubs overlook. Amongst other criteria, golfers decide which course they are going to play based on the photos they are able to find on the internet. Personally, if I search a golf course and amazing photos show up, I will probably book a tee time. Photos change the perception of your course for those that haven’t had a chance to play it yet.
Which golf course do you really want to “shoot”?
I would have a fantastic time at Cypress Point and those bunkers at Pine Valley would be fantastic to photograph.
I feel like high end golf resorts can benefit the most from great photography and social media exposure. In order to book those high value buddy trips, you have to have “buy in” from your entire group. Great photos and exposure play a big part in influencing people’s perceptions of a golf course. Kiawah Island comes to mind as course that could benefit.
Do you have a favourite country for golf course photography?
While most of my work is based in the US, I did spend a fantastic two weeks in Ireland. With all of the waterfront links courses and magnificent dunes, it’s a hard country to beat.
What’s your best experience whilst shooting a golf course? And worst?
I had a wildly good time running across the dunes at Whistling Straits as the sun set. I had a bunch of angles picked out and it was a blast trying to get all those shots before the sun went down. The worst? Rain! Whenever it rains, it’s pretty much a no go for photography. While I love to get out and play in the rain, the camera stays at home.
Are there any new techniques that you like or dislike?
I think drone photography is fantastic and offers a wide variety of new possibilities. Thousands of people have stood on the 7th tee at Pebble Beach and taken a photograph. Drone photography allows you to be the first person to ever take a particular photograph from a brand new angle in the sky. Just that slightest elevation can make a big difference in the final photograph.
Are there other photographers you respect a lot?
I really think that Brian Oar and Evan Schiller do fantastic work. As I get around the country and work on different projects, I run into their work frequently. It is always impressive and always inspires me to get better.
What will your next project be?
I have purchased a recreational vehicle and started my own golf tour to raise money for the First Tee, a local charity here in Seattle. I will be visiting all lower 48 states and inviting people across the country to play with me. It is going to be a blast and we’ll create some fantastic content along the way.
We would like to thank Patrick for his time! For more of his work visit the website of Patrick Koenig or follow him via Twitter or Instagram! If you want to support his fundraiser or want to play a round with him, just contact him. We will be back soon with a new golf course photographer. Want to be the first to know about our new blogposts? Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter here and follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Important: Please note that all photos were provided to us by Patrick Koenig. If you want to use his photos, please contact him. All photos in this blog are copyright protected.