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The Golfing Machine includes about 300 photographs, all taken by Homer Kelley and all featuring a pretty blonde model. Kelley published the first edition in 1969, and as the book gained popularity, there was much conjecture about why Kelley chose a woman, and as to her identity. To this day most followers know only one thing about her—her first name, Diane.
In the spring of 1964 Kelley was toiling at a driving range when he spotted a young woman struggling mightily to hit the ball. Diane Chase, 32, was a Seattle housewife who had taken up the game with a group of golf widows and, on this day, decided to hit a bucket. Kelley watched as she flailed.
"I know how you feel," he said. "I think I can help make golf more fun for you."
Homer offered a few tips, and suddenly Chase was getting the ball airborne. She asked if he would give her lessons. "I will teach you for free," he said, "if you will help me with this book I am trying to write." Chase agreed to serve as Kelley's model, and to make the deal binding he paid her a fee of $1.
The shoot location was Kelley's driveway and garage studio, the props were rudimentary and the posing was tiring. Kelley did not have a shot list—his ideas were evolving and he was making things up as he went. The pair rarely met more than twice in a week, and over the five years they worked together, the longest they ever went without connecting was two months. Chase and Kelley's wife, Sally, knew each other but rarely crossed paths because Sally worked during the day.
Meanwhile Kelley kept his end of the deal. He helped Chase become a proficient recreational golfer. And when, after 30 years of writing and research, Kelley finally had finished copies, he wrote in one: This is the first copy of this work ever issued. One glance through the book will show why it goes to Our Priceless Diane Chase.
Now 76, Chase lives in Honolulu and doesn't play any more, but she's proud that Kelley's photos of her have not been replaced or updated.
Even knowing her identity, many still may wonder: Why her? The reasons, like Kelley himself, were uncomplicated. "I was available," says Chase, "I was willing, and I worked for free."
Homer Kelley's Golfing Machine by Scott Gummer was released on May 14 by Gotham Books.