For 38 years, Art Solomon has been a fixture on the links at the Dothan Country Club during the annual Press Thornton Future Masters golf tournament, quietly capturing images of junior golfers in pursuit of a perfect round.
It began by serendipity. Solomon started a photography business in 1973 with a processing lab called Flash Photo. Twelve years later, he received a call offering the opportunity to photograph Future Masters because another photographer hadn’t shown up. Solomon has photographed almost every year of Future Masters since.
Because he had his processing lab, Solomon was able to photograph the players at Future Master events, and have them printed by the time a round was over.
“Back then we used to hire high school kids to help us run over to my processing lab with a roll of film from that round and wait for it to finish, which would take about an hour or so, and then come back and do it all again,” Solomon said.
Since photography has gone digital, it doesn’t take near as long to have the photos ready today.
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“Now it’s a lot easier to take the photo and go back to the studio or to an office printer and print them out and have them back for the players and their families to enjoy,” Solomon said.
In almost four decades, Solomon has photographed thousands of junior golfers, producing tens of thousands of images.
“I have enjoyed all I have done with not only Future Masters but with my photography business as well over these many years,” Solomon said.
Many Future Masters players have gone onto great professional careers, including this year’s Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who won the 10-under age division in Dothan’s Future Masters in 2006.
This year’s tournament will be the last on the current Dothan Country Club course, as the links will close for extensive renovation over the next year. The 2023 Future Masters tournament will be held at Highland Oaks. And it will also close Solomon’s career as a working photographer. A health challenge over the last year prompted Solomon to reassess, and he’ll retire by the end of the year.
Last June, Solomon was diagnosed with a tumor on the right side of his brain. Shortly after receiving the news, he underwent surgery to have the tumor removed, and underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment until April of this year.
“I have some weakness in my left side mostly in my leg and foot, it’s hard to move it and get my left side to communicate with my right side,” Solomon said. “I’m still in the process of trying to retrain my mind, and physical therapy helps a lot with that.”
Solomon plans to slowly closing up shop with his studio and will be selling his equipment to other photographers starting shortly after the Future Masters crowns another champion on Saturday.
“It has been fun meeting so many people and making friends that come back every year or so and enjoying what I got to do every day,” Solomon said.
“Last year was a real eye opener, and I am thankful that I have lived through that hard time and that I’m still here today to step back and just enjoy time with the people I care about.”