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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.

  3. Tom

    Mar 9, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    Love his work….

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Opinion & Analysis

Everyone sucks at golf sometimes

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“Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with tools singularly ill-designed for the purpose.”

This quote dates back over 100 years, and has been credited to a number of people through history including Winston Churchill and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. Although the game and the tools have changed a lot in 100 years, this quote remains timeless because golf is inherently difficult, and is impossible to master, which is exactly what also makes it so endearing to those that play it.

No matter how hard we practice, or how much time we spend trying to improve there will inevitably be times when we will suck at golf. Just like with other aspects of the game the idea of “sucking” will vary based on your skillset, but a PGA Tour player can hit a hosel rocket shank just as well as a 25 handicap. As Tom Brady proved this past weekend, any golfer can have a bad day, but even during a poor round of golf there are glimmers of hope—like a holed-out wedge, even if it is followed by having your pants rip out on live TV.

I distinctly remember one time during a broadcast when Chris DiMarco hit a poor iron shot on a par 3 and the microphone caught hit exclaim “Come on Chris, you’re hitting it like a 4 handicap out here today” – the shot just barely caught the right side of the green and I imagine a lot of higher handicap golfers said to themselves ” I’d love to hit it like a 4 handicap!”. This is just one example of the expectations we put on ourselves even when most golfers will admit to playing their best when expectations are thrown out the window.

– Gary Larson

Dr. Bob Rotella says golf is not a game of perfect, and that’s totally ok. The game is about the constant pursuit of improvement, not perfection and with that in mind there are going to be days when no matter what we just suck.

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Opinion & Analysis

By definition, there will be no 2020 U.S. Open. Here’s why the USGA should reconsider

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In 1942, the USGA decided to cancel the U.S. Open because it was scheduled so soon after U.S. entry into WWII.  They did this out of respect for the nation and those called to war. There was a Championship however called The Hale America National Open Golf Tournament, which was contested at Chicago’s  Ridgemoor Country Club. It was a great distraction from the horror of war and raised money for the great cause.

All the top players of the era (except Sam Snead) played, and the organizers (USGA, Chicago Golf Association, and the PGA of America) did hold qualifying at some 70 sites around the country. So effectively, it was the 1942 U.S. Open—but the USGA never recognized it as such. They labeled it a “wartime effort to raise money” for the cause.  Their objection to it being the official U.S. Open was never clear, although the sub-standard Ridgemoor course (a veritable birdie fest) was certainly part of it.

The USGA co-sponsored the event but did not host it at one of their premier venues, where they typically set the golf course up unusually difficult to test the best players. Anyway, Ben Hogan won the event and many thought this should have counted as his fifth U.S. Open win. The USGA disagreed. That debate may never be settled in golfer’s minds.

Ahead to the 1964 U.S. Open…Ken Venturi, the eventual winner, qualified to play in the tournament. His game at the time was a shell of what it was just a few years earlier, but Kenny caught lighting in a bottle, got through both stages of qualifying, and realized his lifelong dream of winning the U.S. Open at Congressional.

Ahead to the 1969 U.S. Open…Orville Moody, a former army sergeant had been playing the PGA Tour for two years with moderate success-at best. But the golfing gods shone brightly upon “sarge” through both stages of qualifying, and the tournament, as he too realized the dream of a lifetime in Houston.

Ahead to 2009 U.S. Open…Lucas Glover was the 71st ranked player in the world and had never made the cut in his three previous U.S. Opens. But he did get through the final stage of qualifying and went on to win the title at Bethpage in New York.

Ahead to 2020…The USGA has decided to postpone the event this year to September because of the Covid-19 virus. This was for the fear of the global pandemic. But this year there is a fundamental difference—the USGA has announced there will be no qualifying for the event. It will be an exempt-only event. By doing so, the event loses it status as an “open event,” by definition.

This is more than a slight difference in semantics.

The U.S. Open, our national championship, is the crown jewel of all USGA events for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is just that: open. Granted, the likelihood of a club professional or a highly-ranked amateur winning the event—or even making the cut—is slim, but that misses the point: they have been stripped of their chance to do so, and have thereby lost a perhaps once in a lifetime opportunity to realize something they have worked for their whole lives. Although I respect the decision from a  health perspective, golf is being played now across the country, (The Match and Driving Relief—apparently safely)

So, what to do? I believe it would be possible to have one-day 36-hole qualifiers (complete with social distancing regulations) all over the country to open the field. Perhaps, the current health crisis limits the opportunity to hold the qualifiers at the normally premier qualifying sites around the country but, as always, everyone is playing the same course and is at least given the chance to play in tournament.

In light of the recent “opening” of the country, I am asking that the USGA reconsider the decision.

 

featured image modified from USGA image

 

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Podcasts

TG2: Reviewing Tour Edge Exotics Pro woods, forged irons, and LA Golf shafts

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Reviewing the new Tour Edge Exotics Pro wood lineup, forged irons, and wedge. Maybe more than one makes it into the bag? Fujikura’s MCI iron shafts are some of the smoothest I have ever hit and LA Golf wood shafts get some time on the course.

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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