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Utility vehicle, Donegal style
Utility vehicle, Donegal style

Just two years after shedding his nine-to-five in pursuit of carving out his own altered space in the golf-photography landscape, Christian Hafer has quickly become one of its new lights. Straight-edge, punk rock and hickory, the Pennsylvania native’s unmistakable view of the game has already taken him to its most iconic venues. But at heart he’s still an outsider; drawing equal inspiration from Henri Cartier-Bresson and Slayer, his work around the game’s edges continues to pull people in. That dichotomy has been part of his fuel: Hafer is using his art to make amends with a game that he felt for so long pushed him away.

I’m deeply interested in people and the human element of our experience. I just think that golfers, the golf community and the golf experience, there’s a void there. There are so many stories, and so many interesting people, that need to be seen.

Hood life at Maine’s Great Chebeague
Hood life at Maine’s Great Chebeague

I fell out of golf a few times. I had this love-hate relationship with it, where I loved the sport of golf but I didn’t love the culture. Golf was very rigid and I didn’t feel that I could express myself around it. I would get back into it because I loved the challenge of golf; I loved being by myself playing a game and not being reliant on anything or anyone else. When I really started to get back into it, I just said, “I don’t really care what’s normal; I’m just going to do what’s comfortable.” And that was when, from a photography standpoint but also a personal standpoint as a golfer, I really started to flourish.

The great thing about golf is how interpretive it can be. There’s a million different ways to play it, there’s a million different ways to present it and there’s a million different ways to tell a story. And I don’t think that people ever gave golf photography that type of flexibility before.