An Up Close and Personal Look at the PGA Championship

An Up Close and Personal Look at the PGA Championship

We know, we know, the PGA coming to Kiawah's old news. But when this local photog's gem of a post showed up in our inbox, we knew we had to share

Guest Grit by Els Sipkes

{Els Sipkes is a Dutch-born photographer who came to the Lowcountry five years ago by way of San Diego, California. She is the owner of Nuance Pet Photos, and, when not chasing after dogs with her camera, loves to write, travel, and spend time at the beach with her yellow lab, Cooper. You can view more of Els' work at and}



It's not often you'll find me up and ready to go at 4 in the morning (actually, I'd been up since 3:15), but the notion that I'd be photographing golf's premiere players at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island had me up and at 'em, and gulping down boatloads of coffee, at a time I'm usually just easing into my REM sleep for the night.


My blurry-eyed (but bushy-tailed) drive out to the course had me thinking about how this day was actually a bit of a convergence of my past and present, passion for sports and photography, and the fortune of this tournament taking place within a 6-iron (plus 34.9 miles by car) of my front door.


I've been coming to Kiawah Island since the early 1980's when I first fell in love with the island on a family vacation, and my affinity for golf started when I picked up the game in my twenties, along with my subsequent relationship with a golf fanatic who built custom clubs for the pros at several golf companies in Carlsbad, California. My passion for photography started with getting my first camera for my 10th birthday (a 110 Kodak Ektra 12, with the flip-over case that became a handle), so to say this was a collision of my worlds in one morning is an understatement.


But then the rain came pouring down. Thunder, lightning, blinding rain on the already notoriously-treacherous-two-lane-oak-lined drive out to Kiawah. I finally arrived and paid the $20 for my parking spot, and was the lone spectator among hundreds of tournament volunteers boarding buses that would take us out to the Ocean Course some 12 miles from the parking lot.


Once at the tournament entrance I was told to wait another 20 minutes for the gates to open to the public at 7 am, but just then it was announced play had been suspended due to weather, and there I stood in the rain, along with about 20 other fans, suckers (literally) for the seemingly thousands of mosquitos that descended upon us to feast while we waited patiently for the weather to pass and the gates to open.


And then, at around 7:30 am, it was announced we could go in! (Insert dramatic Hallelujah! music here.) And so, my adventure began.


But enough about me! You just want to see the images of the tournament! Here we go: 


Dark-and-rainy o'clock at the entrance of the 94th PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island


The Ocean Course Clubhouse 


Players practice their putting skills at the Ocean Course


Sea oats and sand dunes in front of the Ocean Course Clubhouse


The 18th green and sandy areas (played as "through the green")


Paul Lawrie of Scotland awaits the practice putt of his golf partner


Tiger Woods watches his shot to the green on the 13th hole 


Gary Woodland lines up his putt on the 13th green


The golf bags of Gary Woodland, Tiger Woods, and Davis Love III


Gary Woodland and Tiger Woods walk in the rain off the 14th tee


Davis Love III at the Ocean Course


Tiger Woods jokes around on the 15th fairway


Tiger Woods having fun on the 16th tee


An alligator wades near the marsh grass on the 16th hole


An alligator swims in the pond whille Tiger Woods walks the course on the 16th hole


Bud Cauley walks near the 12th hole tee box


Spencer Levin approaches the green on the 12th hole 


Toru Taniguchi and Hiroyuki Fujita, both of Japan, walk the fairway of the 10th hole


Marcel Siem of Germany walks the 10th hole fairway


Jeff Coston prepares for his second shot on the 10th hole fairway


A weather warning on the scoreboard along the 16th hole 


Simon Dyson of England walks by the lake on the 17th hole 


Phil Mickelson warms up on the driving range