Only Fan

TGJ Subscriber Andrew Haynes crashes the U.S. Open at Winged Foot
Listen to an audio version of this interview.

Andrew, how does one get into a U.S. Open that does not allow fans?

[Laughs] I still don’t know exactly how I got in. Basically, the USGA reached out through social media. They followed my accounts and saw my “take” on golf and what not. They said, “Hey, do you want to come and capture the U.S. Open from your perspective and be the only fan on site?” Obviously, you say yes. 

What was it like—through your lens—witnessing golf history all by your lonesome? 

That’s a good question. I don’t really think I have this unique take on golf; I see it a certain way. For me. it’s more about details and unique angles. I love this notion about wide open spaces—you’ll see a lot of that in how I crop photography and take photos. It has this airiness to it that a lot of golf imagery doesn’t tend to have. Golf is—for me—my getaway, my peaceful, my airy moments. So maybe a little bit of that is coming through. This is something that I encourage everyone to do in any industry, but especially with golf: People have a tendency to do what others are doing or feel like they have to follow certain rules or certain standards that were set, but that doesn’t really matter anymore. So if you see things a different way, or see something worth doing, give it a shot. That’s what I try to do. I believe in not letting anyone dictate my content or my views. It feels good to be able to see the game from my angle. And to have an organization like the USGA allow me to share it with the world without any filters is pretty cool.

You mentioned angles—have you ever seen green contours like that? 

I have not. Watching some of those guys line up for putts was pretty crazy. The combination of one, a beautiful course; then two, not having anybody in your way was just…I’d forget about it for a second, but every once in a while I’d just think, “This is weird, and also amazing at the same time.” 

Can you recall anything particularly strange or jarring that you witnessed? Maybe something you wouldn’t otherwise have been privy if there were crowds?

I feel like it functioned like a normal Tour event. Obviously having people running around in masks was still a little bit of a surprise. But in certain moments, it felt like fans were there, but they weren’t. You’d see an awesome shot or you’d watch the guys approach the green and it’s just basically you walking with them. Like, “Alright let’s go.” There’s no gallery to chase, you don’t have to beat them to the spot. That was also weird, but awesome at the same time.

What does it sound like when Bryson [DeChambeau] hits driver? 

It sounds like what you’d expect it to sound like: it’s very loud, very fast. The guy is a beast. 

Do you enjoy watching his style of golf?

I do! I think he has a unique take on how he approaches it—very methodical. And then when you add his new approach to strength and power, I haven’t seen anybody else do that before. Obviously it worked out for him. But I would back up and say I like watching all guys play golf. One of the cool things about the game is everybody plays it a little different. Some guys like to grip it, rip it and hopefully pull a wedge on their next shot. Some guys like to stand on a tee box and be a little bit more methodical and say “I want to place the ball here.” I appreciate different styles of golf. 

Finally, you’re a style guy. Anybody who indulged in our Modern Classic Collection would agree. I personally saw some bad looks out there. Whose fits impressed you? 

Ooooh. Billy Horschel had a couple of good looks. He’s got that classic southern gentleman style. Surprisingly I was impressed by, not a player, a coach. Sean Foley low-key is one of the most stylish guys on Tour. Next time you see him on TV or in photography, look at how he dresses. The guy does not leave any detail unnoticed and he keeps it super sharp. Jason Day had some nice looks too. There were a lot of pastels, which I thought was a little bizarre for a fall golf tournament. A lot of pastel yellow?

But remember this was supposed to be in June. 

Yeah that’s fair. We’ll let it slide this time.