Medinah Country Club, Hall of Fame

In the 1980s, the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois, commissioned Cole to paint several renown golfers. Although Cole had established herself as a portrait artist, this project was unlike any she had done before because the individuals who were to be honored in these paintings were no longer living, requiring her to work from photographs that others had taken for reasons other than portraiture.

Further complicating the process was that several of the golfers in this collection were active before photography was commonplace. Thus, even though Cole was used to drawing upon hundred of photos she had taken personally while talking to the client in his or her own environment, this project offered, at best, a handful of photographs—usually aged, discolored polaroids; one of the subject’s faces was, according to Cole, “no bigger than the fingernail on my pinky.”

Researching the individual golfers, learning about life on the fairway during the early and mid-20th century, and talking with current and retired golfers who played at Medinah and elsewhere, Cole painted ten portraits for Medinah Country Club’s “Hall of Fame.”

Golfers in this series include: Tommy Armor (1894–1968), Harry Cooper (1904–2000), Billy Casper (1931–), Jacky Cupit (1938–), Abe Espinosa (1998–1980), Lou Graham (1938–), Ralph Guldahl (1911–1987), Cary Middlecoff (1921–1998), Byron Nelson (1912–2006), and Gene Sarazen (1902–1999).