“I was lucky that this was my year to be in the right spot at the end to make one of my best Masters moments.” – Curtis Compton

Curtis Compton began covering the Masters as a UPI staff photographer in 1986, the year Jack Nicklaus won his 6th green jacket and record 18th professional major at the age of 46. This year was Compton’s 26th Masters. 


I have been privileged to witness many great moments in golf history at Augusta National Golf Club, but it has never been better or more historical than my rookie year in 1986. The playoff drama this year, however, between Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera with his son on the bag reminded me of the last time Jack won with his son as caddie.


The picture of Adam Scott taking the Masters win this year was taken with a Canon EOS-1DX camera with a 70-200mm f2.8 lens at 200mm at 1/800 second and a F-stop of 3.5 at ISO 10,000.   With experience, you learn to never over load yourself with lens on the final hole of a golf. If you use a longer lens, like a 500mm, you get great isolation on a players' reaction but you lose the scene of the moment.


The biggest challenge for photographers covering the Masters is not being able to get inside the ropes. Photographers have to try to work through the galleries of spectators to line up their shots. You don't just stay in one place either because you have multiple players and leaders you are trying to cover and work from hole to hole. It becomes especially difficult when following someone like Tiger Woods who has a massive gallery that follows him from hole to hole.


After spending the day in the rain trying to keep my gear dry, the playoff shifted from the 18th green. This is where most of the photographers were camped out in one of the three photo boxes around the green. The photo tower has a first come first serve policy so I bailed out of my position on the 18th green and then made the dash to the 10th hole, although no running is allowed at the Masters!

And after packing my gear for miles around the golf course all week my biggest dread, as is with other photographers, is vying for the perfect position to get THE image.

I was the second or third photographer to get to the photo tower at the 10th hole so I ended up with a good position. It is just a matter of luck being in the right place at the finish and the position I had on the tower worked out perfectly. I had Scott, his caddie Steve Williams, and runner up Angel Cabrera all lined up and in perfect view. If Scott had turned a little to the left or a little to the right to react after his putt I would have missed the moment. The photography department works as a team on major events in an attempt to capture the best moment. I was lucky that this was my year to be in the right spot at the end to make one of my best Masters moments.


Want to see more examples of Curtis Compton's work for the AJC? Please enjoy these galleries, selected especially for you by the staff.