By Pat Ciarrocchi
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Golf enthusiasts are anticipating the start of the U.S. Open at Merion in June, but right now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, they can experience “The Art of Golf.”
You can follow “the flags” through a series of English manor style rooms to the exhibit, which shows how today’s play imitates art.
An expansive painting by the Scottish portrait artist, Charles Lees, is the centerpiece of the show. It’s a mid-19th century painting, on a hole at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. It features fifty famous golfers of the day engaged in a social and animated moment of heated competition.
“The passion that the folks have over there really hasn’t changed much,” said Jay Sigel, a Philadelphia pro-golfer who won acclaim as one of the nation’s top amateur golfers.
Sigel came to the museum at our invitation. He says that even today, golf at St. Andrews is very social.
“You have to expect interruptions during your swing…during your shot, there’s a lot of conversation,” said Sigel. “Crossing the fairways are children, dogs and picnic baskets.”
It is quieter on championship day, however.
Jennifer Thompson is the curator for “The Art of Golf,” which is on exhibit through July 7th.
“The Lees piece itself is very interesting, because it includes 50 different golf enthusiasts and very remarkable golfers of their time,” explained Thompson. “Lees traveled through Scotland over three years, doing portrait sketches to make sure the faces in the painting were accurate.”
If the piece was painted today, Tiger Woods would be in the thick of play.
With the U.S. Open at Merion, the Art Museum is hosting a Sip and Savor Scotch Dinner on Friday, June 14th and a Father’s Day Brunch with giant screens broadcasting the U.S. Open and the Art of Golf.