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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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  2. Nack Jicklaus

    Mar 9, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    Great stuff.

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    Mar 9, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    Love his work….

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Opinion & Analysis

A day at the CP Women’s Open

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It’s another beautiful summer day in August. Just like any other pro-am at a professional tour event, amateurs are nervously warming up on the driving range and on the putting green next to their pros. As they make their way to the opening tees, they pose for their pictures, hear their names called, and watch their marque player stripe one down the fairway. But instead of walking up 50 yards to the “am tees,” they get to tee it up from where the pros play—because this is different: this is the LPGA Tour!

I’m just going to get right to it, if you haven’t been to an LPGA Tour event you NEED to GO! I’ve been to a lot of golf events as both a spectator and as media member, and I can say an LPGA Tour event is probably the most fun you can have watching professional golf.

The CP Women’s Open is one of the biggest non-majors in women’s golf. 96 of the top 100 players in the world are in the field, and attendance numbers for this stop on the schedule are some of the highest on tour. The 2019 edition it is being held at exclusive Magna Golf Club in Aurora, Ontario, which is about an hour north of downtown Toronto and designed by noted Canadian architect Doug Carrick. The defending Champion is none other than 21-year-old Canadian phenom Brooke Henderson, who won in emotional fashion last year.

From a fan’s perspective, there are some notable differences at an LPGA Tour event, and as a true “golf fan,” not just men’s golf fan, there are some big parts of the experience that I believe everyone can enjoy:

  • Access: It is certainly a refreshing and laidback vibe around the golf course. It’s easy to find great vantage points around the range and practice facility to watch the players go through their routines—a popular watching spot. Smaller infrastructure doesn’t mean a smaller footprint, and there is still a lot to see, plus with few large multi-story grandstands around some of the finishing holes, getting up close to watch shots is easier for everyone.
  • Relatability: This is a big one, and something I think most golfers don’t consider when they choose to watch professional golf. Just like with the men’s game there are obviously outliers when it comes to distance on the LPGA Tour but average distances are more in line with better club players than club players are to PGA Tour Pros. The game is less about power and more about placement. Watching players hit hybrids as accurately as wedges is amazing to watch. Every player from a scratch to a higher handicap can learn a great deal from watching the throwback style of actually hitting fairways and greens vs. modern bomb and gouge.
  • Crowds: (I don’t believe this is just a “Canadian Thing”) It was refreshing to spend an entire day on the course and never hear a “mashed potatoes” or “get in the hole” yelled on the tee of a par 5. The LPGA Tour offers an extremely family-friendly atmosphere, with a lot more young kids, especially young girls out to watch their idols play. This for me is a huge takeaway. So much of professional sports is focused on the men, and with that you often see crowds reflect that. As a father to a young daughter, if she decides to play golf, I love the fact that she can watch people like her play the game at a high level.

There is a lot of talk about the difference between men’s and women’s professional sports, but as far as “the product” goes, I believe that LPGA Tour offers one of the best in professional sports, including value. With a great forecast, a great course, and essentially every top player in the field, this week’s CP Women’s Open is destined to be another great event. If you get the chance to attend this or any LPGA Tour event, I can’t encourage you enough to go!

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Podcasts

TG2: New podcaster Larry D on his show “Bogey Golf”

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GolfWRX Radio welcomes a new podcast, Bogey Golf with Larry D and we talk to Larry. He lets us in on his show, who he is, why he loves the game, and even what’s in his bag! Rob missed his member-guest and Knudson got a new driver.

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

Getting to know Payne Stewart

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Ever since that final putt fell in Pinehurst in 1999, Payne Stewart’s memory has enjoyed mythical qualities. A man of complex charm, but many of us who grew up without him recognize only his Knickerbocker pants, his flat cap, and his W.W.J.D. covered wrist wrapped around that United States Open trophy.

I had a wonderful opportunity to play a round of golf with two men that know a lot about Payne. One through friendship and the other through journalistic research.

Lamar Haynes was Payne Stewart’s close friend and teammate on the SMU golf team. He’s full of stories about Payne from the good old days. Kevin Robbins is an author who just finished a new book on Stewart’s final year of life, set to release to the public for purchase this October. He works as a professor of journalism at the University of Texas but has also enjoyed an impressive career as a reporter and golf writer for over 20 years.

We met at Mira Vista Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, to talk about Payne. Robbins is a solid golfer who spends time working on his game, which tells me a lot about his personality. He is one of us.  As for Haynes, the guy hasn’t lost much since those SMU golf team days. He can still swing it. Fantastic iron player. And both men are wonderful conversationalists. They offered a unique perspective on Stewart—the golfer I grew up idolizing but never really knew. There’s a good chance you don’t really know him, either. At least not the whole story.

“Most golf fans now know the story of his ’99 U.S. Open win,” Robbins said.  “What they don’t know is where he came from.”

Robbins’ book, The Last Stand of Payne Stewart: The Year Golf Changed Foreverchronicles Payne’s last year on earth with dramatic detail, covering his triumph at Pinehurst and the Ryder Cup at Brookline. And, of course, it tells the story of that tragic plane crash that took our champion from us. What the book doesn’t do is hide any of the blemishes about Payne’s life that have either been forgotten or pushed aside by brighter moments and memories.

“I thought that the other Payne Stewart books, while they have a place, they didn’t tell the whole story,” Robbins said.

The whole story, from what I read, was Payne being brash. A poor winner and sometimes a poor sport when he lost. He often said things he shouldn’t have said and then made those mistakes again and again.

“He had no filter,” remembered Haynes.  “Several close friends on tour had a hard time with him when he won his first Open. He didn’t take into account any of the consequences his words could create. He had a huge heart. Huge heart. But at times there was just no filter. But he grew a great deal over the last 2 or three years.”

It’s most certainly is a book about a change. A change in a man that was better late than never. But also a change in golf that began at the turn of the century and hasn’t really slowed down since.

“The 20 years since his death, to see the way golf has moved, what the tour looks like now,” Robins said.  “There was an evolution that was taking place in 1999 and we didn’t know how it would manifest itself. But now we do. So when you see Brooks Koepka hit a 3-wood in the US Open 370 yards, well that all really had its beginnings in 1998 and 1999. The Pro-V1 ball was being tested in 1999 and being rolled out in 2000. Fitness and equipment, sports psychology, nutrition. All of those things that a guy like Payne Stewart really didn’t have to pay attention to.”

But that change that occurred in Payne, culminating in his final year of life, is something worth learning. It’s a lesson for all of us. A guy on top of the world with still so much to fix. And he was fixing it, little by little.

“He was authentic,” Haynes said. “And he learned a lot later in life from his children. With their Bible studies. You saw a change in him. Very much. He had a peace with himself but he still would revert to his DNA. The fun-loving Payne. Raising children and being a father helped him tremendously.”

Payne was passionate about so many things in life but his children became a primary focus. According to Haynes, he would be so loud at his daughter’s volleyball games…yelling intensely at the referees…that they gave him an option: Either he wouldn’t be allowed to watch the games anymore or he needed to become a line judge and help out with the games. So, Payne Stewart became a volleyball line judge.

Lamar brought the head of an old Ram 7-iron along with him to show me. Damaged and bent from the crash, the club was with Payne on his final flight. He had it with him to show his guys at Mizuno as a model for a new set of irons. That Ram 7-iron belonged to Haynes and Payne had always adored the way it looked at address.

“Payne also used my old Mizunos the last year of his life,” Haynes said.  I had received the MS-4s 10 years earlier from Payne in 1989. They were like playing with a shaft on a knife. The sweet spot was so tiny on the MS-4. They made the MP29 and 14s look like game improvement irons. Payne used those. Then Harry Taylor at Mizuno designed him an iron, which later became the MP33. The 29 and 14s were very sharp and flat-soled. Well, Payne loved this old Ram iron set that I had.. He asked for my Ram 7-iron for Harry Taylor to model his new set. He liked the way it went through the turf. He had it with him on the plane. This is the club that started the MP33.”

It was Lamar Haynes, the man who seems to know just about everyone in the golf community, that set Robbins on this writing journey. Robbins had written one book previously: The story of the life of legendary golf coach Harvey Penick. But this book came a bit easier for Robbins, partly due to his experience, partly due to the subject matter, and partly because of Lamar.

“There’s a story here,” Robbins said. “With any book, you hope to encounter surprises along the way, big and little. And I did. I got great cooperation a long the way. Anybody I wanted to talk to, talked to me thanks to this guy Lamar Haynes.”

“Lamar said the first guy you need to talk to is Peter Jacobsen,” Robins said. “And I said ‘great can you put me in touch with him’ which became a common question to Lamar throughout the process.” Robbins chuckled.  “Literally 2 minutes later my phone rings. ‘Kevin, this is Peter Jacobsen here.'”

“Peter told me the story about the ’89 PGA championship in our first conversation. So literally in the first 10 minutes of my reporting effort, I had the first set piece of the book. I had something. Lamar made a lot happen.”

Lamar Haynes and Kevin Robbins

The book is not a biography, though it certainly has biographical elements to it. It is simply the story of Payne’s final year, with a look back at Payne’s not so simple career mixed in. The author’s real talent lives in the research and honesty. The story reads like you’re back in 1999 again, with quotes pulled from media articles or press conferences. Anecdotes are sprinkled here and there from all of Payne’s contemporaries. The storytelling is seamless and captivating.

“I was pleasantly surprised how much Colin Montgomerie remembered about the concession at the 1999 Ryder Cup,” Robbins said. “Colin can be a tough interview. He is generally mistrustful of the media. His agent gave me 15 minutes during the Pro-Am in Houston. This was in the spring of 2018. I met Colin on the 17th hole and he had started his round on 10. Just organically the conversation carried us to the fifth green. Just because he kept remembering things. He kept talking, you know. It was incredible. Tom Lehman was the same way. He said “I’ll give you 20 minutes” and it ended up being an hour and a half at Starbucks.”

The research took Robbins to Massachusetts, Florida, and Missouri—and of course, to Pinehurst. He met with Mike Hicks, Payne’s former caddie, there to discuss that final round. The two ended up out on Pinehurst No. 2, walking the last three holes and reliving the victory. It gives life to the story and fills it with detail.

“Part of what I hoped for this book is that it would be more than just a sports story,” Robbins said.  “More than just a golf story. The more I started thinking about where Payne began and where he ended, it seemed to me…and I’m not going to call it a redemption story although I bet some people do. People when they are younger, they have regrets and they make mistakes. They do things they wish they could take back but they can’t. So, what can they do? Well, they can improve. They can get better. That’s what Payne was doing with his life. He was improving himself. It was too late to change what he had done already. So what could he do with the future? He could be different.”

“It was accurate,” Haynes said.  “I had a tear when I finished it. I texted Kevin right afterward. I told him I couldn’t call him because I’m choked up so I texted him.”

So here’s two men who knew Payne Stewart, albeit in very different ways. They knew he was flawed in life but he got better. Was Payne Stewart that hero at Pinehurst, grabbing Phil Mickelson’s face and telling him the important thing is he’s going to be a father? Yes. But he was so much more than that. He was so much more than I knew before I read this book. Most importantly, Payne Stewart was always improving. A lesson for all of us, indeed.

If you want to hear more about my experience, tweet at me here @FWTXGolfer or message me on Instagram here! I look forward to hearing from you!

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