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A shot at glory: Photographer David Yarrow on remaking golfing history at St Andrews

© Gary Player Gary Player poses for Yarrow’s recreation 
of the famous St Andrews picture 
from 1895.
Gary Player poses for Yarrow’s recreation of the famous St Andrews picture from 1895.

It is not only one of the most famous locations in sport but, according to acclaimed photographer David Yarrow, the 18th green at St Andrews is also the most famous location in Scotland.

He said: “With the cocktail of the town alongside one of the most famous stretches of fairway and green in the world, it’s a visual overload and it is Scotland at its best and most timeless.

“I’m a very proud Scot and there are some fantastic parts of Scotland visually – the Glencoes and Loch Lomonds – but I think this is the country’s most outstanding and most famous view.” As golf fans descend on the town this week as the 150th Open tees off, Yarrow has unveiled a stunning image of the 18th that he photographed last month with golf legend Gary Player, a three-time Open champion.

Entitled The Home Of Golf, it is a recreation of Michael Brown’s famous Open Golf Championship from 1895. Player and the supporting cast of characters dressed up in 19th-Century costume to replicate the period.

“I was doing some work at the Masters in Augusta with Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus, and I said ‘Wouldn’t it be great if, since it’s the 150th, we did a period piece where we went back and everyone looked like Tom Morris or whoever.”

He chose Gary Player as his lead because the 86-year-old South African is “still a showman, with the looks and style to carry the photograph with ease”.

© SYSTEM
(James) Michael Brown (1843-1947)<br />St. Andrews: The Amateur Golf Championship in 1895 between L. Balfour-Melville and John Ball, Junior

“To get the chance to recreate something as timeless with one of the icons of golf was an honour and I didn’t want to mess it up,” said Yarrow, from Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire. “I know the light on the east coast, when it’s windy, can change so quickly. It can be very stark light and then be subdued. I only wanted a little bit of light.

“If you imagine the picture I got without the clouds, it wouldn’t be the Scotland you and I know, so it was great to photograph it with the menacing clouds behind the clubhouse. It was taken at 9.10pm, following a frantic two hours of getting everyone into moustaches and beards.

“We worked with the Scottish Theatre Group in Glasgow. It was a big team effort. Quite a few of the R&A members are in the picture, as is Martin Gilbert, of Aberdeen Asset Management, and some of the championship committee, so it’s a nice moment.

“I knew I had to photograph towards the clubhouse but the way they play the course now, I wouldn’t get that perspective. In 1880, they often played the course the other way around, so that legitimised the shot.”

Yarrow, whose photography has raised £10 million for good causes in the past five years, hopes sales of the picture could raise up to $500,000 for the Gary And Vivienne Player Foundation.

© AP/Shutterstock
Gary Player, in trademark black, bags a birdie at the US Open at Bellerive Country Club in St Louis<br />in 1965.

A descendant of the Yarrow shipbuilding dynasty, Yarrow began his career in sport, with his image of Diego Maradona raising the World Cup in 1986 one of his most iconic. After the St Andrews shoot last month, he travelled to Qatar to visit the football stadiums that will host this year’s World Cup.

He has just returned from South Sudan, where he once again photographed the Dinka tribe. His 2014 image of the tribe, called Mankind, is one of his most famous. Equally well known for his wildlife images as his work with supermodels such as Cara Delevingne, he recently did a ’70-themed shoot in California with Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen.

He said: “I have a new book coming out in September and Cindy Crawford is writing the foreword, which is nice. I never thought a wee boy from Kilmacolm would have an American icon write the foreword to his book.

“I’m also going to Alaska next week. It feels like the world is getting back to normal, which is not before time, and so now I’m trying to make up for lost time.”