Taking his shot

Bold moves at Firestone and Augusta put Michael Lane’s paintings into major status. For golf fans, Tom Watson’s chip shot to beat Jack Nicklaus in the 1982 U.S. Open ranks among the greatest moments in professional golf history.

Bold moves at Firestone and Augusta put Michael Lane’s paintings into major status. For golf fans, Tom Watson’s chip shot to beat Jack Nicklaus in the 1982 U.S. Open ranks among the greatest moments in professional golf history.

It’s especially memorable for Michael Lane because it was the shot that launched his business, Golf and Sports by Lane. The Jackson Township-based artist creates picture-perfect acrylic paintings of gorgeous golf courses and their signature holes, as well as skiing scenes and more.

Lane gave the painting he made of that scene at Pebble Beach in 1986 to his brother, who suggested he have it reproduced. The venture came after he lost his job at Camelot Music due to downsizing. Some may remember the giant album and movie covers on display at Camelot stores. Those were created by Lane.

The job at Camelot, he said, was good for practicing different techniques. He created 120 paintings in a four-year period.

“We cranked them out,” he said. “There wasn’t a lot of money in it, but it got me out of the (plastics) factory.”

Lane took the job when he first moved here from Erie, Pa., to be with his bride, Geri, a teacher in Jackson Local Schools. The pair met as undergraduates at Edinboro University.

His first big opportunity came to his new business when he visited the PGA pro at Firestone Golf Club in Akron in 1986.

“I basically went on a cold call,” he said with a laugh.

For the next two years, he produced paintings of the scenery there, as well as some for the World Series of Golf. He would set up a tent at major events there to sell to guests and players.

“It was a great thing for exposure,” said Lane, who at the same time started writing letters to the granddaddy of private clubs, Augusta National in Georgia.

Lane said the prestigious club is very “old school.” In other words, he said, you don’t solicit them. But to his surprise, while on a golfing trip to South Carolina, he phoned the club, and the PGA pro there agreed to meet with him.

Lane made the drive to Augusta, had the interview, and was hired on the spot.

“He said, ‘You have a lot of tenacity,’ ” Lane remembers.

The new commission had Lane creating paintings of several famous holes at Augusta. He sold the limited edition, signed prints at the Masters tournaments for five years.

Consequently, owners of his work include well-known golfers such as Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nick Faldo, Arnold Palmer, Craig Stadler, Lee Trevino, and Ian Woosnam — along with course designers Rees Jones, Tom Fazio and Robert Trent Jones.

Another major coup came in 1992 when Lane was hired by Jack Nicklaus Productions to produce four paintings for his ABC Sports television special, “The 18 Most Difficult Holes in Major Championship Golf.”

The paintings appeared with a superimposed Nicklaus walking in the scene describing how to play each hole.

Again, he said, “It wasn’t a lot of money, but good exposure.”

That endeavor made a fan of his attorney, the late Sam Krugliak, who had several golf paintings in his office, said his wife, Aurelia.

“He has a very delicate touch, and we liked his ability to use color,” said Mrs. Krugliak, who said there is a pleasantness about Lane’s work.

She added, “He’s just a delightful person and we enjoyed (his work).”

Lane continued to paint for clubs in the Midwest until 1995, when he chose to take a sabbatical to raise his son.

“I thought that would be easy,” he said laughing.

Lane gained a whole new respect for his mother. She raised five children on her own following the death of Lane’s father, an Air Force pilot, when Lane was just 2 months old.

“I would call her and ask, ‘How did you do this with five kids?’ ” Lane said.

Now that his son, Gabe, is in middle school, Lane is jumping back into the art world with both feet. He created a website last year (www.golfandsportsbylane.com) and is taking on new commissions.

He hopes to get his work into golf clubs here in Stark County, as well as paint more skiing and surfing scenes, which he loves. For now, portraits pay the bills.

“It pays to be versatile,” he said.