Posted: April 24, 2015 1:15 pm
Liz Hess is not a golfer.
But the Lancaster artist knows how a woman holds a club, what kind of club she uses for different shots, and the position her body takes as it twists into her swing.
That’s vital because Hess is painting the image to be used on the official poster of the U.S. Women’s Open taking place July 6 to 12 at the Lancaster Country Club.
Hess, of East Lampeter Township, is almost done with the piece, expecting to finish it sometime in the next two days. Yet to be added to it: the signature red umbrella that appears in many of her paintings.
“It will be with a caddie holding a red golf umbrella,” she said.
Hess is thrilled she was chosen to do the painting, which will be featured on posters, prints and notecards that will be for sale at a merchandise tent open to the 100,000 tournament spectators, who will come from all over the world. The prices for the items are still being determined, tournament organizers said.
Also, each of the 156 golfers who will participate in the Open will receive a copy of the print.
“This is kind of like my 50th birthday adventure,” said Hess, who will celebrate her birthday a week after the Open ends.
The project fell into her lap due to her connection to some of the local tournament volunteers, who knew of her work and suggested her to people at the United States Golf Association.
Katy Clair of Lititz is a member of the Open’s hospitality committee. Hess was one of the featured artists at a fundraiser that Clair had helped to organize a few years back, and Clair is a fan of her work.
“I said I could picture her having girls walking up to the 18th hole and someone following them with a red umbrella,” Clair said, noting she wasn’t the only local volunteer who thought Hess would be a good artist to tap for the golf poster.
The USGA agreed, calling Hess early last winter to ask her if she would be interested.
Harlene Udovich, director of merchandise for the Women’s Open, said the tournament typically chooses an artist from the area where the tournament will be held.
“I thought she would be a great fit based on her local knowledge and local following,” said Udovich, who is based in Florida.
Hess’ red umbrella fits nicely in with the red rose that is the symbol of Lancaster, she said, adding, “It’s very recognizable with the community. Everyone can relate to it.”
To prepare for the work, Hess toured Lancaster Country Club, taking lots of photos and learning about golf.
Tournament organizers asked her to show the 18th hole in the painting. The rear of Lancaster Country Club is visible in the distance. A woman golfer, who has just hit a ball, is in the center of the painting.
This week, Hess planned to add about five other people to the scene, including the caddie holding the red umbrella.
Tournament volunteers asked her to add some people to the scene to reflect the number of women professional golfers with an Asian background.
The Ladies Professional Golf Association has a long history in Asia, and this year its tour will visit the Republic of Korea, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan. Six of the top 10 money leaders are from South Korea.
Hess said she’s enjoyed working on the painting, even though she knew very little about golf when she began.
“I’m approaching golf from an artistic standpoint,” she said.
Hess started adding a red umbrella to her paintings in 2002, after putting one in a snow-covered scene from Venice. She liked the pop of color it added and a theme was born in her paintings, which include oils, pastels, acrylics and watercolors.
Hess retained the rights to the painting, meaning she will sell the images to the tournament and also can sell images of it on her own, expecting to make at least $50,000 from the arrangement. She also will have other golf-related original artwork for sale before the tournament, at First Friday during July at her gallery, and during the tournament as well.
The original painting will be auctioned off May 20 at a membership meeting at Lancaster Country Club.