Photography by Gary Phillips

Canada's Longest Drive Champion

Every once in a while, photography brings you to important places and people who have achieved success.   That occasion happened yesterday when I had the pleasure of photographing Canada's Longest-Drive Champion, Ryan Hawkins on a first-class golf course in Myrtle, Ontario.

On a perfect fall morning here in Ontario, the fall leaves were at their brightest colours and combine that with the backdrop at the 17th Tee at the Royal Ashburn Golf Course, you have the perfect setting to capture a champion who hits a golf ball 420+ yards. 

They say a photo is worth a thousand words?  Well, I can tell you, standing on the tee box on a Par 5 hole, I witnessed golfers standing on the green looking in utter amazement, how or where these balls were coming from, knowing the person striking the golf ball was more than 400 yards away. 

Once word got out that that a champion ball striker was amongst them on the course, the game of golf stopped for a moment while they watched Ryan crushing a golf ball like it was second nature.  The sheer power he generated with his swing, was one thing to witness.  The other was his dress code.  :-)

As Ryan stood there for a moment, I grabbed a shot of his colour coordination and his well-stocked golf bag.  I'm glad I took this shot, because I later found out that his sponsors are: Geek Golf and Incepta Execution Golf Shafts, Loudmouth Clothing and Tango Creek Golf and Country Club.

Ryan is a true champion in every way and his sponsors should be so lucky to have him on their team.  Our goal yesterday was to capture some images for his own personal use, however, Ryan made sure he spoke to everyone on the course yesterday, those in the clubhouse and even the tuck shop.    I arrived yesterday to take photos of a champion, however I left there with a better understanding of the commitment Ryan now gives to his sport and to his sponsors, he so proudly wears and uses their clubs.

To top it all off, both Ryan and I were also in the company of another champion in the golfing industry.  Doctor Ron Cruickshank, Director, Graves Academy and Moe Norman Gold Academy and Canada's Only Master Certified Instructor,.  Ron spent time with Ryan and I on the 17th Tee while he consistently hit golf balls 400+ yards.  He secretly video taped Ryan and during coffee, offered some very helpful tips on improving his swing, thus gaining more distance?  is this possible? 

After witnessing Ryan hit a golf ball and having the opportunity to listen to a golf expert, I think my golf game just improved by a few strokes.  All I have to do now is find out where my clubs are, clean off the 15-year-old build up of dust and get back out there.

Best of luck to you Ryan when you compete in Mexico in November 2013.  With the impression you left yesterday with those on the course at Royal Ashburn, I'm sure you will have many following you as you compete for the title of World Champion.

Thanks for a great photo shoot.



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Oct 17
What a great experience it was to watch you capture the athleticism of Canada's Long Drive Champ Ryan Hawkins yesterday. This was the second time I've had the opportunity to watch you in the sport photography arena and both times I've marveled at your attention to detail from the color saturation of pictures to your insistence on capturing the perfect angles. Getting great action shots of a world class athlete like Ryan is no simple task, yet you did it over and over again. The world of photography will be glad to have you as a full time participant and I look forward to seeing your work in the future.

Director, Graves Golf Canada and Moe Norman Golf Academy
Canada's Only Certified Master Instructor
The Royal Ashburn Golf Club, Whitby, Ontario, Canada
Skype: ron.cruickshank54

Thanks again Gary for your time yesterday. The pictures turned out amazing!! It was an honor to have you and Doctor Ron Cruickshank in my presence. Attention to your surroundings, lighting and along with your knowledge of photography really shows!! Capturing the perfect action shot is an art and I couldn't be happier with the results!

Public relations really does go a long way. Whether it be on a golf course or the way your carry yourself on a day to day basis. Doctor Chuickshank has the professionalism, charisma and knowledge in every aspect of the game of golf. I look forward to working with him in the future to further develop my game mentally and physically. He really does know his stuff and breaks down the golf swing into individual components to get your swing to perform at maximum potential.

It was great interacting with everyone at Royal Ashburn yesterday. Having the opportunity to meet with the pros and the public to discuss long drive is always a great experience. Long drive is the "home run contest" side of the sport. For golfers who haven't experienced long drive in person, it really is a display of power. I love the sport and feel blessed to give back in any way I can. Thank you to my sponsors who stand behind me. Tangle Creek G&CC, Geek golf, Incepta Execution golf shafts and Loudmouth golf! Without you non of this would be possible!

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Gary Phillips Woodville, Ontario Canada


As one career comes to an end, I am excited to start another career with my cameras.  Yes, working for a living does put a damper on ones favorite hobby, but now with my pending retirement, the only boss that will control when I can shoot, where I can shoot and for how long, will be the most important boss.  Yes, you guessed right, the commander of the household and my #1 boss, my wife Lee.  :-) 

Throughout my career, I was surrounded with some extremely talented photographers and during my travels, met some amazing world-class photographers. 

For many years, I have enjoyed nature, wildlife and historic places, but now I am studying the most difficult subject to capture.  Humans.

Just when you think you have got a good handle of photography, along comes a subject that moves, talks and has attitude.  :-)  So it's back to the classroom and more hands-on-training in the studio to make lighting, exposure and composition all come together to capture the perfect photo. 

Knowing it's easier to capture grizzly bears in the wild, I like the challenge of working indoors where it's much warmer and dryer.

Thanks for dropping by and please feel free to sign my guestbook and share your thoughts on my work so far.



Malagash, Nova Scotia