Leonard Kamsler awarded inaugural PGA of America Lifetime Achievement Award in Photojournalism

January 14, 2020

Leonard Kamsler, a longtime photographer for GOLF Magazine, has been awarded the inaugural PGA of America Lifetime Achievement Award in Photojournalism, the PGA of America announced Tuesday.

Kamsler, 84, had work featured in GOLF from the genesis of the publication in 1959 until his retirement a few years ago, and was one of the pioneers in photojournalism for the sport of golf.

“Leonard did it all, from portrait and course photography to live action stills from the Tour and instruction pics,” said David DeNunzio, GOLF’s editor in chief. “His innovations in high-speed film and flash basically created the ‘swing sequence,’ which to its credit provided the most intimate glimpse in technique and swing dynamics in its day, fueling both readers’ and instructors’ passion for improvement. Before there was Trackman, there was Leonard, his lens, and the desire to continually push the envelope.”

The PGA of America plans to honor Kamsler on May 13 in San Francisco during the week of the PGA Championship, which will be played at Harding Park.

“Leonard Kamsler’s legacy extends beyond talent and an eye for capturing the best in golf,” PGA of America President Suzy Whaley said in a statement. “His impact upon his profession extends for generations by the photographers that he took under his wing to give encouragement and guidance. The PGA of America is proud that Leonard is the first recipient of this award. His enthusiasm and quality of work covering this great game will remain the gold standard in photojournalism.”

Kamsler was born in Raleigh, North Carolina and discovered his passion for photography during his adolescence. He was gifted a movie camera from his father at the age of 12, and his interest in visual arts took off.

After his graduation from Duke University in 1957, Kamsler began a career that spanned seven decades and resulted in an unsurpassed library of over 200,000 images chronicling players from Sam Snead to Tiger Woods.

During his illustrious career, Kamsler covered 17 PGA Championships, 22 U.S. Opens and 40 consecutive Masters. He left his mark on the documentation of the Masters as the first person to set up remote-controlled cameras behind holes 12 and 15 at Augusta National Golf Club.

“When I got the call that I would receive this award, I was swept away,” Kamsler said in a statement. “I always felt that if I could help, I did. I didn’t feel threatened by others. Some don’t want to give others the time of day; they’re afraid that they would lose a dollar. I had clients that stuck with me and gave me a living.”

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