AUGUSTA, Ga. — The view is pretty good, all things considered. There is no need to rush for a position near the green, to cram into a seat in the stands or to position yourself along the ropes.
David Dobbins also has something others struggling to watch the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club aren’t allowed to have: a camera.
And he’s used it with great skill in recent years to capture footage from above one of the world’s most iconic golf courses, giving us a glimpse behind a curtain that’s almost always closed to a few. .
Dobbins, 62, is a former US Army contractor who runs the MVP Aviation flight school in Augusta. Last week he took photos and video of Tiger Woods’ private jet after landing and later on take off after practicing in class.
Eureka Earth’s take on the masters
But what sets him apart is his aerial video and photography of the club’s various courses taking place during the off-season, particularly ahead of the 2020 Masters which was played in November due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dobbins also posted photos last summer on his Twitter feed @EurekaEarthPlus (he also sells them along with photos from various other companies) that show the work in progress that resulted in the lengthening of the 11th and 15th holes, certainly a topic of conversation this week.
“Honestly, the overseeding makeover just felt new to me,” Dobbins says. “It offered a rare view that customers don’t see, and I wanted to share it. One of our greatest pleasures is when a follower of our work responds with ‘thank you’ and encourages us to ‘keep up the good work!’ “I have to believe this adds a layer of depth to the customers’ fascination with Augusta National and the Masters Tournament. We are happy to be a part of it.”
Dobbins was referring to the immense change taking place at Augusta National during the offseason. The club traditionally closes at the end of May and does not reopen until mid-October.
The chaff you see during the tournament – which makes the course completely green – is overtaken by the dominant Bermuda grass, often leaving a brown-looking canvas from above. It is by design. The course’s main turf is Bermuda grass – it was replaced by bentgrass greens in the early 1980s – and the fairways are often bare in the summer.
The same goes for some of the greens, many of which could be covered. Sand can be removed from bunkers. This all happens every year, but Dobbins’ photos captured it all from his Cessna 172.
Not that it’s an easy job.
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“In photography, camera shake is a major concern,” he said. “In flight, there are a lot of variables – updrafts, gusts, turbulence, engine and airframe vibrations – they all work against you. An acceptable social media image can be captured quite easily, even with an iPhone. However, it’s a whole other challenge to capture a golf ball traveling over 190 miles per hour after being run over by driver Bryson DeChambeau.
“At altitude, we detach ourselves somewhat from the event. It is particularly difficult to perceive the dynamics of play on the course. Sometimes it’s just following the crowd or seeing something out of the ordinary on the course, which provides that opportune moment. Provided you have the right gear, I would rate variables as a successful shot at 20% perception, 30% weather, and 50% luck.”
Dobbins said that in 1995 he was working in aerial surveillance to support law enforcement. “As a former federal officer and county sheriff’s deputy, I recognized the value of applying GPS technology to coordinate air and ground units for incident response.”
His experiences as a contract drone pilot led him to apply for a patent and start this new program.
“I’ve flown and photographed in exclusive airspace many times,” he said, noting that Augusta National is among his favorites because it “presents the unique challenge of being efficient while maintaining status. good neighbour”.
And that can be tricky. Augusta National is notoriously deprived of its business and goes out of its way to make it that way. Having someone fly over your golf course may not be appreciated, but Dobbins said there have been no issues so far.
“Certainly at Eureka Earth we have sometimes initiated behind-the-scenes dialogues, and always in the interest of good relationships,” he said. .
“The club has also generated courteous exchanges that I would describe as professional and instructive. We appreciate their feedback as it helps us stay on track with our Good Neighbor policy.”
For golf fans, and Masters fans in particular, what Dobbins did is hugely popular. It started a bit at the 2018 Masters won by Patrick Reed, then captured many scenes from Woods’ victory in 2019, the year they also produced a live stream. The big difference when there were no spectators in 2020 only added to the appeal.
Dobbins said business will be business as usual this year. The hope is for good weather, and he said he would like spectators to form a giant “U” around the ninth green, to show their solidarity with Ukraine. “We would love to post this photo,” he said.
“I started photographing and developing 620 black and white Kodacolor from a $5 Brownie Hawkeye sale over 50 years ago,” Dobbins said. “I love framing the shot. Flying became another way to get a new angle.
“However, I must confess that on occasion the view from the cockpit is so breathtaking that I completely forget about the camera. What a privileged existence.”
More Masters 2022 coverage on Morning Read:
– What players will wear at the Masters 2022
– Learning to play the masters just takes time, as the players themselves say
— Tiger Woods plays Augusta National as speculation swirls
– 30 years later, Fred Couples’ green jacket still resonates
– National Golf Treasure (Augusta): Jackie Burke, 99
– Updated list of fields for Masters 2022
– This teenager is the most unlikely participant of Masters
– Half a century of stories of masters from the same family
– “It only adds to the event.” Rory McIlroy hopes Tiger Woods can compete in 2022 Masters