First Published by The First Call

Jennipher Satterly took to art and golf around the age of 6 years old. Her early remembrances are of sitting at the kitchen table of her family’s home in Montclair, New Jersey and doing a watercolor painting of the Grand Canyon based off a national parks calendar her father had given her.

“I painted everything,” Satterly says. “I used to have this little book called “Tye May and the Magic Brush” and it’s about this little girl who would basically take a sumi ink brush and paint anything and it would come to life — it looked so real. I still have that book, actually.”

Satterly was also introduced to golf by her grandfather Robert Satterly, a World War II paratrooper who later served as an honor guard and five-star U.S. General Dwight Eisenhower’s personal guard. Satterly and her grandfather would often play at the Fort Monmouth Officer’s Club in New Jersey. “He was quite a quiet guy and he would say nothing, and then he’d say, ‘Don’t hit the pin, and of course after that I would always inevitably hit the pin,” Satterly says. She also played golf with her father, a scratch golfer, on vacations — one time making it on Pebble Beach Golf Links. She later played on Glen Ridge High School’s boys team, but didn’t play collegiately.

Art was her calling.

“I was the kid in the class where everyone said, ‘Are you going to be an artist someday, when you grow up?’” Satterly recalls. “I colored and made drawings all the time but it was just something I did that came naturally. I definitely rebelled for a while too.”

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Jennipher Satterly and her Himalayan kitten, Scratch.

For her first summer job, she served as a runner on the Mercantile Exchange and she thought, “I’m going to go into finance,” she says, “but my true talent was always painting and drawing and my parents were very supportive for me to pursue it professionally.”

Satterly earned a Bachelor of Fine Art from Purchase College in New York, then a Master of Fine Art degree from The Glasgow School of Art in Scotland — about 90 minutes southwest of St. Andrews. During the years she lived in Scotland, she visited St. Andrews several times but only played golf occasionally with local friends on a few municipal courses up in the highlands.

Upon returning from graduate school, she then set out on a career as a representational painter based in New York City.

“I was having art shows every couple years,” she says. “I was building a body of work and I was also doing private client painting commissions. I’m a classically trained painter, so private commissions came naturally. I was doing solo exhibitions of my own work on the side. I was also doing fine art illustration of interior and exterior classical architecture and interior design. It was all so much fun yet I was never really passionate about any of it.”

About five years ago, Satterly had an epiphany while on the golf course with her husband and two sons. “It was beautiful, a symphony for the senses,” she recalls. In a single moment, she found her muse and in doing so, she found a way to combine her career as a professional contemporary artist with her life-long passion for golf. Recalling a reference book, “Hallowed Ground,” she had in her library, Satterly immediately reached out to the author, artist Linda Hartough.

“I called her and spoke with her assistant,” Satterly says. “She called me right back and I said, ‘I’m just a girl with an MFA. I’m thinking about pivoting my entire career to paint golf landscape exclusively.’ She was super kind and so generous and helpful in every way. I went to see her for a studio visit and the rest is history.”

Having made the full pivot to golf landscapes, today Satterly is an official fine artist licensee for St. Andrews Links Trust and Pebble Beach Company. Last fall, she succeeded George Lawrence as president of the Academy of Golf Art.

Satterly recently spoke with The First Call’s Stuart Hall about her fondness for both art and golf, and her role with the Academy of Golf Art.

The First Call: Talk about the Academy of Golf Art. You were named president last fall. What is your vision for the AGA? 
Jennipher Satterly: Linda Hartough created the Academy of Golf Art. She set out to create an organization where artists could have a community — artists working in the genre of golf, whether full-time or part-time painting golf. I think having a support structure is valuable, knowing that there are other artists out there helping one another as well as bringing out accurate awareness of the genre.  I think that was her original intent. My vision is to create a strong platform and resource for that community to continue to grow and thrive.

TFC: How do you see that going forward?
JS: The Academy offers an opportunity for members and patrons to share, support and celebrate the genre. Initially, outreach is going to be important. I think that if the AGA is to grow and expand, there needs to be significant outreach to a younger global community with an emphasis to showcase a wide range of artforms that celebrate the game. Collectively, there will be programs created for exhibition, open studio events, lecture series, materials resource and of course philanthropy.

Jennipher Satterly — 2023 AT&T Poster
Jennipher Satterly was commissioned by the Monterey Peninsula Foundation to create the 2022 and 2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am poster.

TFC: What are you looking for in a member or what does it take to become a member?
JS: All are welcome. With several membership options, there’s a place in the AGA for everyone. You can also be a collector and/or patron as well. We are building a global community, a collective.

TFC: You have spoken about reaching people through golf and art, that’s important to you. Why?
JS: It’s important because it includes everyone.  Golf touches all of us, in one way or another. Through golf, champions are made and so are friendships. Golf gives us peace, it also teaches us how to think and problem solve.  Visual art and golf both directly and indirectly have the power to inspire and connect us. There’s no language barrier; there’s no race or gender barrier. There’s nothing and everything. I am interested in using my painting practice to share the stories of golf and I believe that my art should be accessible to all.

TFC: Are you drawn to one type of style of painting?
JS: Not exactly. My painting sensibility is rather broad and somewhat eclectic I guess — from ancient cave painting to modern art. I am influenced by other artforms as well including sculpture and installation. That said, I’ve always felt most drawn to abstract expressionism and painterly realism.

TFC: Do you prefer watercolor? Oil? Acrylic?
JS: I love oil painting and watercolor best. I did two years of what’s called “English Method” watercolor painting in undergrad. It’s a strict process but the results can be so luminous and fluid. It’s also great for fieldwork and quick studies. Among others, I carefully studied Sargent’s watercolors, and Winslow Homer. Watercolor can be very difficult because there’s not a lot of forgiveness. Oil painting however is probably the most forgiving and by far my preferred medium — my practice is primarily oil painting and pencil drawing. I draw out on the courses as well.

TFC: You talked about knowing the history of the game. Knowing, for example, who Alister MacKenzie was and what his design influences and intentions were, does that have an effect on your art? Does that affect how you approach a project in any form?
JS: Oh gosh, yes. Knowing the history in advance of the painting will always inform the work in some special way. Golf course architects have such signature styles.  All of the subtleties and nuances of a course plan will undoubtedly affect the painting composition. I always try to look at a course from a few vantage points – as a contemporary artist, as a golfer and, to a degree, as an historian. Then, when I am out doing the fieldwork, there is a piece of me that just has to feel what’s happening all around.

TFC: As a person who plays golf, does that also influence your painting?
JS: A life-long golfer will undoubtedly bring a certain perspective to the creation of a golf landscape painting; however, golfer or not, what’s important in creating any piece of art with integrity is that the artist has an intimate connection to their work. For me, my painting practice and golf practice are intertwined. Both are meditative, challenging and evolving inseparably.

TFC: Do golf courses make good art subjects because of the nature aspect?
JS: Absolutely. Nature is beautiful in all forms and it’s always morphing. Golf courses celebrate the variety of natural beauty throughout the globe. They are also a wonderful blend of the organized and the wild. What’s more is that they are full of wildlife which makes for surprises and delights along the way. Within the genre, there will always be an endless supply of subject matter, that’s for sure.

Jennipher Satterly fieldwork
Jennipher Satterly performs fieldwork along the Monterey Peninsula. 
(Photo: Kurt Gery)

TFC: Why does there seem to be so much art featuring Pebble Beach, St. Andrews or Augusta?
JS: They — I think to so many of us — represent the dream. They represent legacy. They represent tradition. Having a piece of that dream, owning a piece of that part of history, is significant. I think it has a lot to do with our deep desire to share our love of the game. It’s something, very often, people will aspire to. Maybe you haven’t been to St. Andrews or Pebble yet, but you’ll get there one day.

TFC: With golf art, so often you see golf landscapes void of people. Why is that?
JS: What is, I think, significant that I’ve learned through my journey of making golf art thus far is that once you add people into the composition, you’ve changed the subject. It becomes a narrative about the people rather than about the place and the magic of the experience. I do not put people in the paintings, for that reason.

TFC: The process. Photographers like to shoot courses either early in the morning or in the early evening because of the lighting. It sounds like you do something similar. Briefly talk about your process.
JS: In order to capture a golf landscape, it starts with walking a course. I go out there, I take hundreds of photos, I look at the turf, I draw, I walk more, I listen to all of the sounds and breath. This usually takes several days.  For links golf paintings, I schedule fieldwork based on the tide schedule.

Once all the references are gathered, I make composites. You just take all of the photos and drawings for information. It jogs my memory of the moments spent on the course.  Then, I sit for a very long time and I just look at all of it until I feel ready to begin mixing colors.  It generally takes a couple months to complete the painting.

TFC: What exactly makes you an official fine art licensee for Pebble Beach?
JS: Like any other license agreements with any other company — you’re legally authorized to create work for sale. You are vetted, you have a professional relationship, they know who you are and they trust you. I see it as a tremendous honor and responsibility to be an ambassador of the brand. I take it very seriously.

That said, the majority of my work is private client/club commission as well as work for exhibition.  I am very interested in making public art.

I’m grateful for all of the work and find so much inspiration in the collaboration process. I also believe that if you are truly passionate about what you do and you put in the work and never give up, the joy radiates.