How much do you love golf?
Chances are it’s not as much as Cardiff man Gareth Emery.
The 37-year-old is in the process of having his left arm tattooed from shoulder to wrist in a very modern tribute to the royal and ancient game.
By the time the sleeve is complete, Emery will have spent close to 43 hours in the tattooist’s chair and spent close to £2,500 on the inking.
However, he’s adamant it will all have been worth it.
“I had been thinking about getting a tattoo for some time,” he told bunkered.co.uk. “It wasn’t until I was bored at work one day that the wheels started to turn. I was flicking through Facebook and I saw a full sleeve version of one of those kids’ temporary transfer tattoos. It was only £7.99 so I bought it, put it on and fell in love with it straight away. I couldn’t stop looking at it. That convinced me to get a real one done.”
There was just one problem: what look would he go for?
Being a huge golf fan, who plays at least once a week, he decided he wanted something that paid homage to the game.
He met up with Simon Ashley, the owner of the Needle Asylum tattoo parlour in Cardiff, and together they came up with a blueprint for Emery’s arm.
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“What we’ve got is a golfer on my forearm, the Claret Jug on the inner side, a TaylorMade golf ball on the outer,” explained the ten-handicapper. “The plan is to complete it with the iconic par-3 12th hole at Augusta National on my upper arm, with the Hogan Bridge coming across my bicep.
“It’s going to be completely black and grey, apart from the flag on the green at Augusta which will be done in the iconic Masters yellow.”
The half that has been completed so far has been done in three separate full-day sittings. And in case you’re wondering, yes, it has been painful.
“I’ve got a pretty high pain threshold, which helps, but there have been times that it’s been pretty excruciating,” added Emery. “The Claret Jug part was particularly sore. It took about six hours and required roughly 10,000 needle punctures simply because of the level of detail it required. I remember the last hour of it being really, really bad and I came pretty close to waving the white flag a couple of times but, fortunately, I managed to get through it.”
Choosing a TaylorMade ball was no accident, either.
“I’m TaylorMade through and through,” he laughed. “I’ve just bought myself a set of the new P790 irons to go with my Spider putter and M4 woods. I’ve been playing golf for about 15 years and throughout that whole time I’ve been a TaylorMade guy, from the Burner driver right through to the latest gear.
“There’s just something about them. They seem to go further, sound amazing and just feel right.”
Emery’s tattoos have already drawn many admiring glances since he shared images of them on social media earlier this week but what do his closest friends think of it?
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“They love it,” he added. “I’m a member of a golf society here that plays on the first Wednesday of every month and so I’ve tried to fit my sessions at the Needle Asylum around being ready for that. All the guys think it’s amazing. Even people at work who aren’t big golf fans are blown away by the level of detail in it.
“I’m so pleased with it and can’t wait for the end result.”
All of this begs the question of what Emery will get tattooed next. He’s got two arms, after all. Unsurprisingly, he’s already got a plan.
“I’m ex-army,” he said. “I joined when I was just 17 and served in Iraq, Kenya, Germany, Canada and so on. So, I think something paying tribute to that time would be nice for my other arm.
“But first things first, I need to get this one finished. I can’t wait to see it when it’s done.”
Have you got a golf-inspired tattoo?
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