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As I’ve said many times before, I meet the most fascinating people in writing this column. Let me introduce you to a young man who is combining his love of golf and his love of art into a career.
Kenneth Knight is a gifted artist who has painted portraits, murals and landscapes. He uses different mediums including airbrush. He is also a gifted golfer who shot a 3 over par at Thistle Golf Club, not an easy feat.
Here’s his story. Kenneth started playing when he was 14 years old and it was instant love.
“Golf is a sport that can be incredible and disastrous, all in the same round,” he said. “It brings up the full scope of human emotions. It’s played outdoors, just the golfer and the course. I loved it from the time I was a kid.”
Kenneth attended Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania and studied art. His older brother, Steven, was very gifted in art, according to Kenneth.
“He was amazingly talented with a lot of imagination. I had to learn to do stuff that came naturally to him.”
But Kenneth persisted and learned and soon he was creating brochures and other ad copy. Slowly, his artwork began to sell. His parents moved to the Myrtle Beach area, and six years ago Kenneth followed.
Now, he is making, among other things, a unique golf product: original signed and painted golf clubs. Each one is a work of art. No two are alike.
They can be used on the golf course, but the smaller ones (like old 3 woods and 5 woods) are made into penholders. The pen fits into the space where the shaft is inserted.
I looked at several of Kenneth’s club heads. One had a club logo on it; another displayed an idyllic beach scene with tiny flowers in the foreground. One was a geometric design, another was a muted wavy collage of pale grays and purples and pinks. One was a shiny hot pink and white.
But could a golfer really use one of these hand painted clubs, I wondered.
“Of course,” Kenneth replied. “The ones that are paper weights and pen holders have the painted design all over, even on the face of the club. On a club that is to be used in play, I do not cover or touch the face where the club and ball comes in contact.”
Does the paint chip off when you play? What’s the process?
Kenneth declined to elaborate on just how he puts his designs on the head of a club, except to say it is a secret process. And no, these clubs do not chip with normal play and, no, it is not a shrink-wrap process. Each club is hand painted.
Obviously, a hand-painted club needs a club cover on it when not in play to protect it against banging against other clubs in the bag.
He did tell me that the club is first sanded and the original finish is removed, then the design is painted. There is a sealing process that bonds everything to the surface of the club.
“People bring me their driver because it’s big and the easiest to do. There’s more surface for the design. People often order a specific design like a company logo, or flowers for someone who likes gardening.
“Sometimes they want the ocean with gulls, or a person who owns a sailboat may want a sailboat on his driver, a fisherman may want a fishing boat or fish. Sometimes people want a specific color like hot pink or orange. The possibilities are limitless, and I can pretty well do any kind of design.”
Kenneth’s club heads are found in various golf shops up and down the Grand Strand. Locally, Lori’s Golf Shop in Calabash carries them, as does Pro Tee Driving Range in Ocean Isle Beach.
Some designs are set and available. Others can be special ordered. The basic cost to hand paint a golf club head is $49.95. Elaborate designs are priced higher.
Besides the golf clubs, Kenneth paints murals in private homes, businesses and churches.
Right now, he is working on the largest project of his life, painting a 3,500-square-foot mural on the side of the Beach Church on George Bishop Parkway near the new Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach.
He showed me a binder with photos of his projects. Many of his paintings are religious in nature. One especially caught my eye. It was a profile of a Madonna and child in a gauzy circle of light.
“This was a Christmas card I made,” he said.
Kenneth believes that God is leading him and he trusts in that process.
“He gave me my talent, and I’m trying to use it the best I can. I’m following my dream.”
Someday, Kenneth hopes to have a real working studio with enough room to display his work.
He also would like to have time to play golf.
“Right now, I’m busy trying to make it on my own as an artist. I don’t have any time left for golf.”
I have a feeling that will change someday.
Golf Gab Groaner
Joe is all set to tee off on the first hole when a golfer in an adjacent fairway hits a huge banana ball slice. The ball descends in a huge arc and hits Joe square in the face just as he is lining up his shot.
The golfer comes running up, all apologies and very upset, but Joe will have none of it.
“You idiot!” Joe screams, clutching at his face. “Your ball hit me in the eye. I’ll sue you for five million dollars!”
The errant golfer says, “I said ‘Fore!’”
Joe looks at him, extends his hand and says, “I’ll take it!”
Elsa Bonstein is a golf columnist for the Beacon. Reach her at email@example.com.