Wall Of Fame
Video artist Andy Clayman unveils the biggest show in golf
Golf is young and old, vertical and horizontal, cruel and kind and intensely spiritual." You can forgive Andy Clayman for waxing poetic. He hasn't been sleeping much. Multimedia director Clayman, 46, just put the final touches on a video wall he'll unveil next month when the World Golf Hall of Fame opens in St. Augustine, Fla. Titled The Passion to Play, it's a nine-minute electronic mosaic, the first thing visitors will see when they enter the Hall.
The wall—the Show, its creators call it—is a vast bank of 40-inch TV monitors: 240 square feet of screens containing 11.2 million pixels, each receiving a constant stream of marching orders from Clayman and his colleagues at Mediaworks, a New York City firm that has also designed displays for IBM and the Whitney Museum. Using hundreds of photos and film clips plus music and computer-driven effects, the Mediaworkers have built what they call their best work. That's tall talk for a crew whose exhibit at the Whitney caused traffic jams. They got their Show on the road last year when Clayman, his partner Burt Minkoff, editor Paul Allman and writer Nathaniel Kahn visited the PGA Tour's TV and film archive, which holds film dating to the early 1900s as well as footage of every tournament ever televised. "You can ask for a shot of Tiger Woods hitting a five-iron, and they say, 'What time of day?' " marvels Clayman.
One day the video team was shooting a certain pro (no names, please) from a crane above a putting green. A simple aerial shot of a 40-foot putt? Not when the pro kept missing while a Florida thunderstorm rumbled in. The filmmakers finally got the shot they needed, clambered to safety and watched lightning strike a stand of nearby trees.
They survived to make a show that features princely Bobby Jones; Ben Hogan's icy eyes; Sam Snead's rubbery perfection; the unexpected beauty of water soaring from a dozen sprinklers; a smile from Nancy Lopez; a wave goodbye from Arnie; a split-screen look at Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus holing iron shots side by side at the same cyber-instant. Yet there's foolery, too, behind the music and grand moments. Remember that 40-foot putt? Never happened; it's a computer-altered four-footer.
"Hey, we were getting scared up there on our crane, and the guy was never going to make that long putt," says Clayman.
" Augusta." The way Nick Price said the word, it could have been a prayer or a curse. "Playing there is like walking hallowed ground, but I don't like the way they nick it up." After missing the cut at Augusta, where his best Masters finish was a fifth in 1986, Price joined the exodus of Tour players jetting to the MCI in Hilton Head Island, S.C., where he spent the week "sitting here in quieter surroundings, licking my wounds." The defending MCI champ, who spent all four days on the leader board on his way to a sixth-place finish, was in a reflective mood. He mused on the troubles of another wounded Nick, saying, "Faldo? He's a strategist, but when you lose your putting touch, strategy crumbles. You can't hit to the safe side of a green and know you'll two-putt, can you? You can't afford to miss a green, or to miss a fairway because that might make you miss the green. That's how bad putting seeps all the way through your game."
Price, the 1993 and '94 player of the year, said he felt squeezed between technology and trickery. "Championship golf is traditionally built on good iron play," he said. "That's how I fashioned my game. But now it's all driving and putting. Almost any Tour player can freewheel the ball with these big-headed, long-shafted clubs with no fear of where it might end up. Guys who were mediocre ball-strikers are far more effective than they were five years ago, while someone like me, who was once Number 8 on the Tour in driving, is lucky to be in the top 80."
Talk of luck reminded him of " Augusta, where they refuse to grow rough, refuse to penalize players who don't hit the ball straight, and instead make the greens so tricky you can make a great iron shot and still come away with a double bogey. Which means, of course, that you have to be a great, great putter to win there. Which means I probably never will." He shook his head, looking toward the horizon. "Frustrates the hell out of me, that place."