The golf swing and the stroke of an artists’ brush have lots of similarities. They both require thought, calculation, precision and great detail.
Symetra Tour professional Emily Childs recently painted a stunning canvas of the third hole of Atlanta National Golf Club, which hosted the Gosling’s Dark ’n Stormy® Classic this past year. Tour rules official Mike Waldron got wind of Childs’ painting acumen and hired her as a way to thank Dean Alexander, the head professional at Atlanta National who also doubled as a guest rules official during tournament week to assist the staff.
Ironically, during the first-round of the tournament, Childs needed a ruling on hole three. Guess who was called over – Dean Alexander. Not knowing who he was or that she would later paint for him, she requested a second opinion.
“I hope he’s not mad at me,” joked Childs when reached this week to discuss her painting and long love of art. "Dean played a huge part in having the Symetra (Tour) event at Atlanta National and this was a way of thanking him for his help and support.”
Childs’ parents tell her that she started drawing as soon as she could hold a crayon or piece of chalk. Her mom, who travels and has caddied for her on occasion over the last two seasons, is an art teacher and always had supplies in the house.
"She encouraged artistic expression, a lot of that ended up on the walls,” said Childs. "I guess I have been painting as long as I can remember, probably since I was 3 or 4 years old.”
Childs started the painting for Mike and Dean following LPGA Qualifying Tournament and said it took approximately two weeks to complete. She doesn’t have an art studio in her home. The dining room table will have to suffice for now.
“Paint gets everywhere.”
Painting is Childs’ sanctuary. During the golf season, travel and practice tend to limit her painting, but she always finds time for art. She frequently draws thank you cards and framed drawings for host families.
"I love painting because I can play my favorite music and jam out by myself for hours at a time,” said Childs, who has played on the Symetra Tour since 2014. “It’s my happy place. I like the feeling of creating something out of nothing in my own special perspective unlike anyone else can do it. My favorite thing about creating art is seeing how happy it makes someone feel when I give my pieces away. I’m not really motivated to paint for myself, most of my paintings I’ve given to someone else."
Childs stayed with a particularly special host family in Atlanta because the wife was a painter, just like her. As a parting gift, she received one of the wife’s paintings. It meant a lot to Childs and she promised a painting in return. Two weeks later, Childs sent a drawing of her host dads parrot.
“A few days went by and I received a message from my Atlanta host mom telling me of her husbands passing,” explained a saddened Childs. "In his last few days he got to see the drawing I made and it meant a lot to her. This also meant a lot to me.”
That wasn’t the first time a Childs painting was therapeutic. In high school, she painted a 12-foot mural of a classmate who was shot and killed during her junior year. She was actually named the 2008 Artist of the Year at Alameda High School.
Majoring in art was a consideration when she went off to college at the University of California, but the studio hours were going to conflict with golf.
Art has always been and will continue to be a second pastime for Childs, but she also now uses art as a way to supplement her professional career.
“I realized how much it costs to play as a professional and started trying to make money on the side, selling my work for entry fees,” explained Childs. "I have traded a painting for caddy fees, sold them at Cal Bears donor events, for family friends and then word of mouth got me some more commissioned work.”
Childs missed the cut by two shots at Stage II of LPGA Qualifying Tournament this year and expects to play the Symetra Tour in 2017 with an eye on a shot at the LPGA in 2018.
And just like her swing, her art is a thing of beauty.
Editors Note: to connect with Emily Childs in regards to her paintings, you can find her on social media. Twitter (@childsemily) or Instagram (emilychildren)