Games People Play: Barry Lategan, 62, photographer

GOLF IS not a game you play casually or instinctively. It requires tremendous mental preparation, and at the same time it's very relaxing. Walking, and interrupting the walking with the moment when you hit the ball: that act of concentration is something that I find very stimulating.

Mark Twain said "Golf is a good walk spoilt" but then I don't think he played. Golf is a lot like taking photographs; it doesn't always go right, so you keep testing the possibility of perfection.

A golf course is a wonderful environment in which to be: a manicured garden in which the difficulties are trees, and bunkers filled with sand. Then there's the rough, and you have to steer your way through all the obstacles, like the vicissitudes of life.

I started playing as a boy in South Africa. It was an opportunity to earn extra money. You carried the bag for adults at the local golf club, and earned pocket money that way. Obviously, being there, you were attracted to playing. I had my first game when I was 12 or 13, and later on, I played at the golf club where Gary Player started, so we were friends together. We both played with great attack, and for a while I wanted to be a golf professional. But then life beckoned in other directions.

Golf is a great leveller. You meet people from all walks of life. You'll play alongside some who are better players than you, and some who are worse, but everyone is reduced to the same vulnerability.

Gary Player went on to become successful and famous, and we met many years later on an aeroplane. We looked at each other, and I said "Gary!" And he said "Barry! What happened to your hair?"

`The Face and Forum', a retrospective exhibition of Lategan's photography, is at the Julia Margaret Cameron Trust, Dimbola Lodge, Isle of Wight, 25 September-25 October (01938 756814)

Comments