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Here’s the story behind the photo of golfers who kept golfing as a volcanic ash plume rose behind them in Hawaii

Two men played golf as an ash plume rose in the distance from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island on Tuesday.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Two men played golf as an ash plume rose in the distance from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island on Tuesday.

It was the photo seen ’round the world — the world of golfers, at least.

A picture snapped in Hawaii on Tuesday showed a pair of golfers carrying on with their round at Volcano Golf and Country Club — yes, that is really the name — as an ash plume from a nearby volcano appeared to rise around them. While everyone else on the course seemed to be awestruck by the plume, the golfers seemed unimpressed and faced away from the cloud as they continued on with their game.

The photo was tweeted by ESPN on Wednesday morning, garnering more than 5,000 retweets and 20,000 likes by the evening, and an article on golf.com heralded the players who braved an “erupting volcano in Hawaii to sneak in a round.”

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So what exactly led up to this moment?

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Mario Tama, a Los Angeles-based Getty Images staff photographer who captured the moment, told the Globe that he was perusing the golf course on Hawaii’s Big Island after a peer hinted that the course was a great place to snap photos of volcanic activity because of the lack of trees in the way.

“We went up there and I wasn’t really expecting to see anyone golfing. I figured it would be empty,” Tama said in an interview with the Globe. “Shortly after I got there, the plume started kicking up pretty strongly.”

He said he saw at least one group of golfers leave the course in a cart, and then turned his focus onto shooting pictures of locals who were watching the ash plume.

A man drove a cart at a golf course as an ash plume rose in the distance from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island Tuesday.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
A man drove a cart at a golf course as an ash plume rose in the distance from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island Tuesday.

“I thought no one else would be golfing,” Tama said.

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That’s when someone called out to him.

“I was trying to get that shot, and as I was shooting, I heard these guys call out to me that I was in the way of their game and could I step aside,” Tama said, laughing. “They were very gracious about it. Obviously, it didn’t occur to me that I was impeding on someone’s game. So I walked over to the left and got some shots of them as they were teeing off.”

Despite the attention that Tama’s photo has gained, he noted that the locals are fairly used to the seismic activity nearby.

“It’s part of life,” he said. “A lot of people here are essentially living on the volcano. For locals, it’s not that crazy.”

Tama also pointed out that there appeared to be no immediate danger at the time the photograph was taken.

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“There was no seismic activity — the ground wasn’t shaking, there was no noise,” he said. “The way the wind was blowing, the plume was going away from [the] golf course. It wasn’t hazardous to breathe. If it was over the golf course, everyone would’ve left.”

Tama, a news photographer who said he travels a lot for work, arrived in Hawaii in early May to capture the volcanic activity for Getty. He said this was his first time ever visiting Hawaii.

On Tuesday, ash plumes from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano had spouted as high as 12,000 feet, scientists said. Those plumes were separate from the lava eruptions happening about 25 miles away from the summit, where about 20 lava fissures have destroyed more than two dozen homes and forced the evacuation of about 2,000 residents.

Ash emissions have since decreased, prompting the cancellation Wednesday of an ash fall advisory.

People watched the ash plume rise.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
People watched the ash plume rise.

A woman hold her dog, Tzippy, at the golf course.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
A woman hold her dog, Tzippy, at the golf course.

A family gathered on the course to watch the activity.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
A family gathered on the course to watch the activity.

Boys played on the golf course as an ash plume rose in the distance.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Boys played on the golf course as an ash plume rose in the distance.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.