Kevin Murray – Golf photographer like no other: ‘My 10 favourite shots’

Kevin Murray is world renowned for his fine art approach to capturing the natural beauty of golf courses and the spirit of the game of golf. We asked him for his 10 favourite shots and the story behind them.

Kevin is a staff photographer for Golf Monthly, Marriott course photographer for Europe, and official photographer for Troon Golf rest of world, taking stunning images of golf’s greatest courses and players, winning the Lawrence Levy award for Outstanding Golf Photography.

“It’s very difficult to select my favourites as there’s so many to choose from – all have a different story to tell.”

1: Centurion Club, England

This is the 17th at Centurion. A par 3 with a tricky little green that sets you up for the par 5 18th. It was in the middle of summer. I got a guy to ride a buggy down there because it was a dusty road. I just wanted to see what effect that would have as a backdrop, and this is what we got. It’s pretty cool.

2: Cleeve Hill, England

This is the 18th at Cleeve Hill. We knew we were going to get that little bit of light coming through. We waited for about an hour and eventually we got the shot.

The club was actually going to be closed down. There was a members club which really didn’t pay for the upkeep of the clubhouse. So there was a guy who used to play there along with several others, and one of their buddies sadly passed away. When they found out the club was going to be closed down, they put an offer in to take it over and run it, and that’s exactly what they’re now doing. But they’re making it more than just a golf course. The clubhouse now is open to anyone that uses the hill. So you have cyclists, walkers, horse riders and the golfers. It’s an Old Tom Morris design, so it was important to keep the history going there.

3: Dundonald Links, Scotland

This is one of my early photographs, the 8th at Dundonald. I was up there for three days and it absolutely teemed down and I hadn’t got anything. Everything was overcast. I was literally leaving and I’d packed everything up, and then the clouds cleared. I was running around for about an hour trying to get all the shots I needed. The fact the flags are leaning shows you the force of nature that’s there.

You never know in this game where that shot is going to come from. You can do all your preparation, look at the forecasts, and you’ve still got to be in the right place at the right time. This kind of set a style for me. I wanted it to be more painterly like a traditional old landscape type of feel. I have a degree in art, studying illustration. I love old landscapes. Those guys were capturing light through painting rather than photography. That’s a big influence for me. People say to me ‘oh you’re the guy that does the dramatic skies’. It’s a compliment because when I started no one was doing this kind of thing. There’s a lot of people now in the industry who use this kind of simple concept, but it’s not new because all the old masters were doing it.

4: Lofoten, Norway

I love this shot, the 3rd at Lofoten. It’s one my favourite venues in the world. This is July in the Arctic Circle in Norway. It’s known for the sky turning pink, especially around two in the morning. It’s just about to do it, and looking at the long shadows it’s probably around one o’clock in the morning. It’s spectacular.

5: Machrihanish Dunes, Scotland

The 5th hole at Machrihanish. This was for a photoshoot for FootJoy‘s ‘Make Every Day Playable’ campaign. They got two guys from the States and two guys from the UK, and they would play golf every day and wear the whole list of FootJoy’s apparel. I would set my lights up etc and we would cover their journey.

I think this one tells a story. They hey had just played from the tee and the three guys were walking towards their balls and then you have this other guy on the left going towards his ball. Kind of just summed up golf to me. It’s a sport for all levels. The conditions as well, you can see it’s not great weather, but the colours are nice and it’s a pleasant photo.

6: Mauna Lani (South), Hawaii

It’s quite a journey to get to Mauna Lani. It took me around 36 hours. Similar to Lofoten, it’s not easy to get to. It’s normally three flights, but it’s well worth it. The course is actually built out of lava. It’s famous because of the 15th. They say it’s the most photographed par 3 in the world. Which is spectacular in itself. You can see where you tee off, to quite a considerable green framed by palm trees. Everything is right about this. The crashing waves bring you in to the photograph and provide a focal point. It kind of explains what goes on at this hole. I was out there for a week. It was pretty cool.

7: Rory McIlroy at Royal County Down, Northern Ireland

This was when Rory was still an amateur. I was on tour with Golf Punk and I’d lost my passport in transit and missed the flight, so we went over to Royal County Down. It was a Saturday and Rory was in the pro shop. The pro in there said Saturday is members’ day, so you cant play. But then he said okay you can play the back nine with this kid Rory. 

It was so important for me because it was early days in my career. It’s one of my earliest player shots. It was both humbling and extremely exciting to play with this young kid. Witnessing history waiting to happen. The secretary explained this kid is the greatest thing since Tiger Woods. What an experience.

8: St. Andrews (Eden Course), Scotland

This was an evening shot. We had actually been photographing the Old Course, and I was in a cherrypicker and I’m looking around and I thought ‘ok, that’s it, that’s a view that no one has seen before’. That’s the great thing about getting elevation at St. Andrews. You can’t use a drone at that end of the course. You have to get permission because you’ve got the airport over the estuary and this spot is in their take-off zone. So our only option was to get a cherrypicker. I was official photographer for the St. Andrews Links Trust for four years and this is when we got to take these shots.

9: St. Andrews (Old Course), Scotland

This was one of the shots we were getting at the Old Course, St. Andrews. The Swilcan Bridge. I like it because it’s unusual. When I saw the recent changes (the added stones at the foot of the bridge), I thought this can’t be real, it has to be a spoof. It’s like drawing a moustache on the Mona Lisa! Within 24 hours it had all been taken down. All credit to the Links Trust. They listened and put it right straight away.

10: Tobacco Road, North Carolina (on the cover)

Tobacco Road is a crazy design. Mike Strantz designed it. His signature is doing crazy stuff on a golf course. But it’s genius. It’s like Pinehurst on steroids. It’s on everybody’s bucket-list when they go to the Pinehurst area of North Carolina. This is the 18th. You can’t see it, but it’s a dogleg where you’re driving over some hills, a blind shot, to a very tight landing area and a deep green.

The clubhouse is so iconic. I think it sets a precedent and we can learn from this. Their footfall is amazing. You’d struggle to get on the golf course. It’s busy, yet the clubhouse fulfils all of its needs. It’s got a tiny footprint. It’s just one big room where you have the cafe, a tv, shop, and very basic changing rooms. Very basic but it does the job. That’s what I love about this place. We go every year. Good memories.

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Julio Herrera
Julio Herrera
8 months ago

I love Mauna Lani (South), Hawai

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