February 8, 2009

Praying For Clouds

Dom Furore (left) and guide Pat Lim preparing to shoot the Himalayan Golf Course in Nepal, photographed by their driver, Ram. AUDIO SLIDESHOW: Take a guided tour of his journey to the Himalayas.

Dom Furore (left) and guide Pat Lim preparing to shoot the Himalayan Golf Course in Nepal, photographed by their driver, Ram.

AUDIO SLIDESHOW: Take a guided tour of his journey to the Himalayas.

Ansel Adams was the renowned environmentalist whose stunning black-and-white photographs of the American West left enduring images of nature unblemished by man. Adams believed he had a social obligation to protect our national parks from the desecration, as one biographer put it, of pool halls, automobiles, curio shops and golf courses. So you'll never find a picture taken by Ansel Adams of, say, Augusta National.

Using the same stark contrast, clarity and depth in his prints, Senior Staff Photographer Dom Furore creates the opposite effect for Golf Digest. Dom's landscapes are celebrations of how golf courses fit into the natural surroundings.

Back in the May 2002 issue, Furore began a unique study of the world's great mountain ranges, snow-capped with golf in the forefront. He shot the Rocky Mountains first as a decorative background for Banff Springs, SilverTip and Stewart Creek, three spectacular courses on the glacial lakes and mining rail lines of Canada.

Then in May 2005, Furore continued his adventure in Switzerland and France with a portfolio of golf in the Alps. Changes in elevation of 5,000 feet and hairpin turns around herds of cows led him to Chamonix, Villars, Verbier, Leuk and the famous Crans-sur-Sierre, home of a PGA European Tour event since 1939. "Every putt breaks away from the Alps," he concluded.

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The adventure quotient climbed a notch this month with his trek to Nepal and China to find golf in the Himalayas (Read, "High in the Himalayas"). He left home Feb. 14, and after overnight stops in Bangkok and Kathmandu, where he connected with his "Sherpa," Pat Lim, ultimately arrived in Pokhara three days later. "I waited six days before I was able to see the mountains and photograph Yeti's Golf Course. The second course, the Himalayan, was only two miles away. Every morning before sunrise we would drive over, set up and wait to see if the mountains were going to be visible. We continued this routine until March 8. We were told if they didn't show in the morning, they wouldn't be visible all day, so it made for a very long month."

Dom takes you on a guided tour of his journey with an audio slide show, where you can also view his pictures of the Rockies and Alps.

"Being in a country for that long helps you see what a place and its people are really like," he says. "I found the Nepalis to be very outgoing, industrious and friendly. They really focus on their children getting an education. This usually means spending a large percentage of their income on a good school, and they take great pride in that. My driver, Ram, had moved from a small farming village that was several hours away. He shared a room with other cab drivers, worked 16 hours a day, then would get in line late at night for his five liters of rationed gas every two days. He sent his money back to his village so his children could go to school, and he sees them once a year.

"We hired him every day to pick us up before sunrise. We gave him muffins and juice every morning that we would all eat on the way to the course, and I suspect it was his best meal all day. That was an unusually good gig for him, and you can't imagine how sad he looked when he finally dropped us off at the airport for our trip to China. I think he spent a lot of time that month praying for clouds."

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