Robert Matre's Top Forty • June 1 - July 10, 2014

The gallery has kept me so busy this year that I have not been on a single golf photoshoot. So I thought it would be fun to take a look back over the last eleven years and count down my Top Forty courses that I have photographed. Actually, I'm going to count up, so we can get to the best stuff right away. And when the list is complete, I'll be boarding a plane to Scotland for my first golf photography trip of 2014!

I hope you enjoy viewing these photographs as much I love making them.



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 36 Kingsbarns

The Thirteenth
St Andrews, Scotland

I must admit that I've made a mistake. Kingsbarns was supposed to be higher on this list, much higher. Kingsbarns is simply one of the best courses I've ever step foot on. And the fact that a new course makes such an impact surrounded by so many historical links in Scotland, just proves how fantastic Kingsbarns really is. This is a must play when visitng St Andrews, it's as simple as that.



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 35 Idle Hour

Russell Henley
The Seventeenth
Idle Hour Club
Macon, GA
2008 Georgia Amateur Championship

Idle Hour is a splendid Donald Ross design in Macon, and one of the finest courses in Georgia. I first played there as an eighth-grader in 1981 in a high school golf match against Stratford Academy. It was cold and raining, and I know I shot a million. It's the first time I can remember playing in tough conditions. What stood out is the memory of Peter Persons, then a senior, who was actually angered that he shot "only" a 69.

Fast Forward to 2008, and I was back at Idle Hour with a camera for the Georgia Amateur, after I narrowly missed qualifying to play in the championship myself. What transpired there is still one of my great tournament memories, as home town hero and Idle Hour member Russell Henley bested his friend and UGA teammate Harris English in an epic battle that saw both players break the previous scoring record.

Read more about the dual here in this month's Golf Georgia magazine, featuring my photographs from the championship that was an instant classic, and now the stuff of legends.



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 34 Torrey Pines

Tiger Woods
72nd Hole
Torrey Pines GC
La Jolla, CA
208 U.S. Open

Torrey Pines on its own is probably not enough to rate very high on my list, but the 2008 U.S. Open will always be one of my greatest experiences in golf. It was quite the thrill to be able to document this historic moment, and the 19-hole playoff the following day allowed the the thrill to linger.

There are two things that stand out to me when I look at this sequence. First, it's hard for me to believe that this covered only six seconds. Because when you see something like this through a lens, and you start firing away, you see it in slow motion. When I see this on TV it looks nothing like what I experienced looking through a viewfinder.

Secondly, there is no way that I would have believed at the time, that six years later we would still be waiting for Tiger Woods to win his next major. That just seemed impossible in 2008.



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 33 Interlachen

Annika Sorenstam
Interlachen CC
Edina, MN
2008 U.S. Women's Open

I traveled to Interlachen for one reason and reason only, to document Annika Sorenstam's final U.S. Open. I only went for the final round, and she was not in serious contention to win. After her tee shot on the Par-5 Eighteenth, I briefly thought about going to find the leaders, but decided to stick with Annika on her final hole. She sprayed her tee shot right, and then punched out to the fairway. From over 200 yards away, she holed out for an eagle her final shot of her final U.S. Open. This is one of my photographs, and am so happy that I was there to make it happen.



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 32 Old Head

The Sixteenth
Old Head Golf Links
Kinsale, Ireland

It's probably not fair to blame Old Head, but I really had one of the worst experiences there that I've ever had. It was the final round of my 2010 trip to Ireland, and I was just worn out. Add to that, I faced complicated travel plans right after the round in order to make it St Andrews, Scotland, the following morning, which had me on edge that day. And what was worse, we played in a thick fog that did not allow for quality golf or the ability to enjoy the views, which I hear are magnificent. With all those factors, I shot a million and did not enjoy a single minute of it. We did manage to enjoy some partial views on our last few holes, but still not enough to really appreciate it. I really would like another crack at Old Head, because while my golf experience was not so great, I did manage to get some great photos through the fog, and the place still made quite an impact on a photographer.



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 31 Mid Pines Inn & GC

The Eighteenth
Mid Pines Inn & GC
Southern Pines, NC

As far as unexpected surprises goes, Mid Pines ranks very high on the list. I was driving some artworks from Atlanta to Raleigh that a friend and collector had purchased, and I left Atlanta in the evening and wanted to make it at least halfway to Raleigh and get a hotel for the night. When I realized that the Pinehurst area could be a good stopping point, I had my wife search for affordable hotels. When she mentioned Mid Pines, I told her to make the reservation. I arrived close to midnight and got a room for under $100. The following morning, I played 18 holes for under $50! And even though the price is right, the hotel oozed with vintage charm and the course was a fine example of Donald Ross design. A lot of bang for the buck! I hear that they renovated the course in a style similar to the new Pinehurst No. 2 shortly after my visit. I just may have to go back there and see it for myself. I just hope it's still affordable!



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 30 • Cuscowilla

The Fifth
Cuscowilla GC
Greensboro, GA

Cuscowilla is the only Coore/Crenshaw design in the State of Georgia, and that's a shame. One of the great thrills of my short career as a golf radio host was interviewing Mr. Ben Crenshaw. In fact it was my first one-on-one interview, but I didnlt want him to know that. I was nervous, and led off with the only think we both had in common: Cuscowilla. When I opened the interview with mentioning how much fun Cuscowilla is to play, and that fun should be an important factor in golf design, Mr. Crenshaw's eyes lit up. He grabbed the microphone and talked for nearly ten minutes before handing it back. We spent around 45 minutes talking about golf course architecture, and I would have been fine if it had continued for hours.




Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 29 Bethpage Black

Bethpage Black
Farmingdale, NY
2009 U.S. Open

It's not often that a rudimentary sign is the "signature" image of a golf course, but Bethpage Black is no ordinary course. I've had two experience at Bethpage, one with clubs and another with a camera. Both were memorable, but left me wanting more.

I played the back tees around 2003 when I was still a "good" player. Here's what the round was like: hit a tee shot, miss the faiway, look for your ball in the high rough for a few minutes, hack a 5-iron into a greenside bunker, and maybe get up and down for par. It was a great experience, but the course simply didn't allow for much freedom or creatrivity.

I returned in 2009 for the U.S. Open. It rained. A lot.



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 28 The European Club



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 27 Rustic Canyon

The Seventeenth
Rustic Canyon
Moorpark, CA

Rustic Canyon is a course designed by Gil Hanse and golf writer, blogger and now televison personality Geoff Shackelford. It is an affordable public course, and it probably plays as much like a true links course as anywhere I've played in America. There is ample room for imaginative play, and the vistas are gorgeous. If you find yourself in LA and are looking for a place to play, put this one high on the list, assuming you don't have conenctions at Riviera or LACC!



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 26 Winged Foot

Winged Foot GC
Mamaroneck, NY
2006 U.S. Open

There is something special about a U.S. Open in New York. I was fortunate to experience three of them when I began photographing golf, 2004 at Shinnecock, 2006 at Winged Foot and 2008 at Bethpage. I stayed in Manhattan and commuted each day to the course, and that makes for an exciting week. I actually flew home Sunday morning, so I missed the final round.

I love this view of the grand clubhouse. I try not to think about the misfortune that occurred on just the other side. And so it was that Padraig Harrington, Jim Furyk, Colin Montgomerie and Phil Mickelson all squandered good chances to win, only for Geoff Ogilvy to emerge not only as the champion, but a new intellectual voice in golf.

The Golf Gods work in myseterious way!



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 25 Royal Dublin

Royal Dublin GC
Dublin, Ireland

Royal Dublin is a hard golf course, and there is a soft spot in my heart for it. It's not the prettiest of courses, especially when compared to so many of the spectacualr seaside links of Ireland. But there is an authentic ruggedness and industrail charm to Roal Dublin, and it is a fine test of pure links golf. But make no mistake, it's a demaning test.



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 24 Tobacco Road

The Thirteenth
Tobacco Road GC
Sanford, NC

Oddly enough, Tobacco Road was near the top of my list of courses I wanted to play, along with the likes of Chicago Golf Club, National Golf Links of America and Royal Melbourne. The late Mike Strantz, the course architect, had become an inspiration with his dedication to the craft of artistic golf course design, and Tobacco Road had intrigued me through course photos and tales of its abstract and unique characteristics. So imagine my excitement to find that Tobacco Road actually exceeded my very high expectations.

There are two things that make this course so unique and special. First, imagine a course where on 18 consecutive tee boxes, you see before you a golf hole unlike anything you've ever seen. All 18 holes! The second thing that stands out, is that the course is entirely playable, with ample room for conservative, creative or daring, whatever strikes your mood.

Tobacco Road is one of the very best courses I've ever played, and easily one of the most fun. And it's public and affordable. I think I played for $50! I'd say it's a must play when you are in the Pinehurst area, as Tobacco Road is a short drive away.



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 23 Whistling Straits



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 22 Carnoustie



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 21 Kiawah Island | The Ocean Course



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 20 County Louth / Baltray



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 19 Riviera

Please check back soon for my commentary on Riviera.



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 18 Ansley Golf Club (Settindown)

Please check back soon for my commentary on Ansley Golf Club's Settindown Course



Robert Matre's Top Forty

No. 16 Pinehurst No. 2

Please check back soon for my commentary on Pinehurst No. 2