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Opinion & Analysis

Dave Baysden and the art of golf

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Dave Baysden is the kind of guy you root for. A father and husband first and foremost, the North Carolina native has found a way to finally do what he is passionate about professionally. Luckily for all of us, that passion is art.

Golf art, specifically. Though he does paint all types of outdoor and sports scenes, golf is what has helped put him on the map. And in a world where so much of the golf art belongs in the realism and historical categories, Baysden’s work is imagination and color mixed with all of our dreams of playing the best golf holes in the world.

“I have loved art and creativity since I can remember,” Baysden said. “I’ve always drawn, doodled, painted – whatever.  It was always just who I was created to be, not necessarily something I was interested in.”

Baysden works as a graphic designer for an engineering firm now. And while that job provides security and comfort, it was not long ago he decided he needed to get back to the joy he once found creating art as a child.

“I decided to just start something, paint something,” he said. “I began small – painting little watercolors while sitting on the couch with my wife after the kids fell asleep. I remember the first night, starting with a few ideas…a trout, a fly-fishing scene, baseball players and the Masters.  Pretty much what I still enjoy painting. So, I figured – paint what you know, right? Golf is a sport that is beautiful.  Easy to use that for inspiration.”

And it is a game he loves to play, too. A golf nut just like so many of us, Baysden loves being outside and draws much of his inspiration from beautiful courses and nature. Golf provides the visuals and landscapes that fuels artistic passions while adding extra dimensions of history, characters, competition, and story-lines. Baysden has proven to have a knack for capturing the spirit of the game.

TPC Sawgrass- 17th Hole

Pine Valley- 10th Hole

Working with both acrylic and watercolor, Baysden says he starts with a loose plan for each painting and then messes it up until he likes it. A self-taught artist, he has had to work to find a process that works best for him…but most importantly, it needs to be a process that he enjoys.

“I love spending late nights in my workshop throwing paint around.  I’ve generally got music playing — a mix of Americana, country and classic rock,” Baysden said. “Like golf, painting is an extremely mental activity for me. If I can enjoy the process of a painting, then I can overcome the doubts and fears that are constantly ringing in my head.  Golf is the same way… I’m learning to enjoy the process of a round of golf – the few ups and plentiful downs – and I feel like my game is seeing some improvement. I’ve got a lot of work to do though in both art and golf.”

Quail Hollow- 18th- Watercolor

Last summer, Baysden began a new process of painting using only a golf tee as his tool. He wanted a new creative challenge and figured if he changed his palette knife and brush to something different, then he might create something different as well. He looked around his desk and saw a golf tee and a light bulb went off. He also creates these gorgeous little paintings on thick wood panels so he can drill a hole in the top to include the tee that was used. That way, the owner can rest a golf ball on top. Perfect for a hole in one display.

Sweetens Cove- Tee Painting

Illustration is also a huge part of Baysden’s creative outlet. Professional golf provides a wonderful subject matter for comic style story-lines. “I just try to capture highlights and storylines from the majors in a fun, lighthearted and creative way.  It takes me back to those Sunday comics pages. I do a quick illustration to sum up each day of the tournament in a single image cartoon.”

2018 PGA Championship- Day 1

 

2018 US Open- Day 3

Several tour players have responded positively on social media, too. Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Tom Watson have all reacted to illustrations done by Baysden in one manner or another. But the biggest connection to the Tour definitely came from Matt Kuchar and The Masters. Baysden had been in Atlanta for the 2016 Tour Championship at East Lake, just walking around the course, sketching. He painted several quick scenes around East Lake, including a watercolor sketch of the Seamus headcovers in Matt Kuchar’s bag. Baysden had already been a fan of Seamus and their unique designs, so he was excited to do a quick painting for his portfolio. He later posted the piece on his Instagram account and tagged Seamus Golf. Next thing he knew, the owner of Seamus, Akbar Chisti, contacted him and asked for the painting for his own collection.

The two continued to correspond over the next year and Baysden even did an original painting backdrop for  Seamus Golf’s  PGA booth–an image of the Old MacDonald course at Bandon Dunes. Then Baysden had another creative idea. “We started batting around the idea of doing a painting on canvas that could be made into headcovers. We decided on a few scenes and then just went for it. I sent him some paintings of Augusta and Shinnecock on pre-cut headcover canvases, they sewed them up and he said he was going to approach Kuchar about using them at the Masters.” And that is exactly what happened. Matt Kuchar used a one of a kind, Dave Baysden painted Seamus headcover in the 2018 Masters Tournament. “It’s still such a highlight and something I can’t believe came together.”

The opportunities keep coming for Baysden. And that is great for us, the consumers of the fruits of his passion. Baysden is swamped with commission requests and proposals and he credits that to his friends in the art community who continue to drive him towards his goals.

Baysden has had the opportunity to work with State Apparel on a mural for their San Francisco location and has also had his art displayed on the cover of Caddie Magazine. While his art is exceptional, he isn’t alone in the blossoming golf art community.

Several other artists (Baysden mentioned Josh Bills, Mike Cocking, Lee Wybranksi, Bart Forbes, Joshua Smith, Chris Duke as huge inspirations) continue to challenge and encourage him to create something great every day. Baysden feels humbled to have his art alongside those artists and hopes to promote a sense of community and support of all golf artwork. 

“I’m just amazed it took me so long to overcome the fears that kept me from creating anything in the first place, but even more amazed at the responses I have received once I just started creating.”

Please keep creating, Dave Baysden. For all of us.

State Apparel- San Francisco

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Johnny Newbern writes for GolfWRX from Fort Worth, Texas. His loving wife lets him play more golf than is reasonable and his son is almost old enough to ride in the cart with dad. He is a Scotty Cameron loyalist and a lover of links style courses. He believes Coore/Crenshaw can do no wrong, TMB irons are almost too hot and hole-in-ones are earned, not given. Johnny holds a degree in journalism from Southern Methodist University.

3 Comments

3 Comments

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    Mar 25, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    As I website possessor I conceive the articles
    here is rattling wonderful, appreciate it
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  2. Nack Jicklaus

    Mar 9, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    Great stuff.

  3. Tom

    Mar 9, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    Love his work….

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Mondays Off

Mondays Off: Chez wins the Travelers with his own swing and holiday golf is approaching!

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Chez wins the Travelers Championship with a swing that Steve is unsure of. Talking about the Rocket Mortgage and when Knudson is going down to watch. Look out, it is holiday golf and 5.5-hour rounds are the norm!

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

Hot & Cold: Where strokes were won and lost at the Travelers Championship

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In “Hot & Cold,” we’ll be focusing each week on what specific areas of the game players excelled and disappointed in throughout the previous tournament. On Sunday, Chez Reavie captured the second PGA Tour title of his career, and here’s a look at where some of the most notable players gained and lost strokes over the four days of action at the Travelers Championship.

Hot

Chez Reavie held off the challenge of Keegan Bradley to win his first title on the PGA Tour in over a decade, and the American’s irons were critical to his success. Reavie led the field for strokes gained: approaching the green in Connecticut, gaining 6.4 strokes over the field in this area. Check out the clubs Reavie used on his way to victory in our WITB piece here.

Jason Day returned to form last week, and the Australian excelled with his iron play for the four days of action. The 31-year-old has had issues with his ballstriking recently, but at the Travelers, Day gained 6.4 strokes over the field for his approach play – his best performance in this department since the 2016 PGA Championship.

Keegan Bradley’s putter has often been a thorn in the 33-year-old’s side, but last week in Connecticut it served him beautifully. Bradley led the field in strokes gained: putting at the Travelers, gaining a total of 9.8 strokes with the flat-stick. It snaps a streak of 11 straight events where Bradley had lost strokes on the green.

Cold

Jordan Spieth continues to struggle, and once again, the issue revolves around his long game. The Texan lost a combined total of 4.3 strokes off the tee and with his approaches at the Travelers – his worst total in this area since The Players.

Justin Thomas showed plenty of positive signs last week, with the second highest strokes gained: tee to green total in the field. However, Thomas’ putter was stone cold, and the 26-year-old lost a mammoth 7.8 strokes to the field on the greens. That number represents his worst performance of his career with the flat-stick, and Thomas has now lost strokes to the field on the greens in his last seven successive events.

Brooks Koepka struggled on his way to a T57 finish last week, with the 29-year-old losing strokes to the field off the tee, with his irons and on the green. It is the first time that Koepka has lost strokes in each of these three areas in a single event since the 2018 Tournament of Champions.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: The best golf club innovations?

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Being in the golf equipment industry for nearly 40 years, I have paid close attention to the evolution of golf equipment over its modern history. While I’ve never gotten into the collecting side of golf equipment, I have accumulated a few dozen clubs that represent some of the evolution and revolution in various categories. As a club designer myself, I ponder developments and changes to the way clubs are designed to try to understand what the goals a designer might have had and how well he achieved those goals.

Thinking about this innovation or that got me pondering my own list of the most impactful innovations in equipment over my lifetime (the past 60 years or so). I want to offer this analysis up to all of you for review, critique, and argument.

Woods: I would have to say that the two that made the most impact on the way the game is played is the introduction of the modern metal wood by TaylorMade back in the 1980s, and the advent of the oversized wood with the Callaway Big Bertha in the 1990s. Since then, the category has been more about evolution than revolution, to me at least.

Irons: Here again, I think there are two major innovations that have improved the playability of irons for recreational golfers. The first is the introduction of the numbered and matched set, a concept pioneered by Bobby Jones and Spalding in the 1930s. This introduced the concept of buying a “set” of irons, rather than picking them up individually. The second would be the introduction of perimeter weighting, which made the lower lofted irons so much easier for less skilled golfers to get airborne. (But I do believe the steadfast adherence to the concept of a “matched” set has had a negative effect on all golfers’ proficiency with the higher-lofted irons)

Putters: This is probably the most design-intense and diverse category in the entire equipment industry. History has showed us thousands of designs and looks in the endless pursuit of that magic wand. But to me, the most impactful innovation has to be the Ping Anser putter, which has been…and still is…copied by nearly every company that even thought about being in the putter business. Moving the shaft toward the center of the head, at the same time green speeds were increasing and technique was moving toward a more arms-and-shoulders method, changed the face of putting forever. I actually cannot think of another innovation of that scale in any category.

Wedges: Very simply, I’ll “take the fifth” here. To me, this is a category still waiting for the revolutionary concept to bring better wedge play to the masses. The “wedges” on the racks today are strikingly similar to those in my collection dating back to a hickory-shafted Hillerich and Bradsby LoSkore model from the late 1930s, a Spalding Dynamiter from the 50s, a Wilson DynaPower from the 70s,  and so on.

Shafts: Hands down, to me the most impactful innovation is the creation of the carbon fiber, or graphite, shaft. After fruitless ventures into aluminum and fiberglass, this direction has improved the performance of golf clubs across the board. You haven’t seen a steel-shafted driver in two decades or more, and irons are rapidly being converted. Personally, I don’t see me ever playing a steel shaft again in any club – even my putter! But beyond that, I’d have to say the concepts of frequency-matching and “spine-ing” shafts made it possible to achieve near perfection in building golf clubs for any golfer.

Wild card: This has to go to the invention of the hybrid. After decades of trying to find a way to make clubs of 18-24 degrees easier to master, Sonartec and Adams finally figured this out. And golfers of all skill levels are benefitting, as this is just a better way to get optimum performance out of clubs of that loft and length.

So, there’s my review from a lifetime of golf club engineering. What can you all add to this? What do you think I missed? I hope to see lots of conversation on this one…

 

*featured image via Ping

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