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BYU vs. Utah football game photo re-created with 104,650 golf tees

Published: Tuesday, July 14 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Artist Jenna Layton looks over her work on a BYU/Utah football game photo mural made of painted golf tees in Jeff Holt's home in Huntsville.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

HUNTSVILLE — Jeff Holt's new wall art may not be everyone's cup of "tee," but you have to marvel at his ingenuity.

While playing golf in California, Holt held a few golf tees as he thought about the 17-by-8.5 blank wall in his basement in Huntsville.

He had hit the wall, so to speak, stumped with what to do next with his basement's decor.

"What are we going to do with a wall that size?" Holt had asked his wife.

"My wife (Jenna) suggested finding a picture of a football game. They have lots of good primary colors," Holt said.

Holt developed a plan, scouring the Deseret News photo archives for a photo that would work.

Imagine a wall made of golf tees, each carefully painted to replicate a photo in a mural-like piece of art.

"I loved this photo," Holt said, pointing to a football shot from the newspaper.

The photograph from the 2006 BYU vs. Utah game was taken by staff photographer Scott Winterton.

"I had this vision you could pixelate this thing," Holt explained.

After purchasing the license to use the photograph, Holt had a computer programmer pixelate the photo to fit the dimensions of the wall and graph the layout of the photograph.

The next step was to drill holes in the wall based on the grid, replacing the holes with golf tees matching the game photo's colors.

"I thought I could knock it out on a weekend. Ha!" Holt said.

The undertaking was no effortless hole-in-one.

It took 21/2 weeks to drill 104,650 holes, with the project lasting more than eight months total.

After the holes were drilled, a black coat of paint was added as a neutral background for the tees.

Like many home improvement projects, it required a mulligan. After the paint dried, the tees didn't fit the holes.

"Once we painted it black, it changed the size of the hole, so we drilled for another 21/2 weeks," Holt said.

Finally, with do-over complete, the wall was ready for paint.

Holt hired a Weber State University art graduate, Jenna Layton, for what Holt jokingly called a "giant paint by number."

Layton assumed the work would go quickly.

Par for the course, it soon dawned on her this was quite a venture.

It became a two-man scramble when Layton recruited her husband, Cory, as her painting partner.

"We would go home dreaming in dots," Jenna Layton said.

Jenna Layton had to dot all the "i's" and paint the tees, mixing all of the colors in the different shades.

Nearly 400 hours later, the wall was finished.

In total, the wall's 232 rows and 451 columns of tees cost an estimated $15,000.

If you stand close to the wall, the detail of each tee, carefully painted in a variety of colors, is impressive, maybe more so than if you stand back and take in the work in as a whole.

Holt and his wife are both U. graduates; his daughters are BYU graduates.

"We titled the piece 'Eternal Struggle: Outcome Unknown,' " Holt said.

The photo features Utah player Brett Ratliff trying to recover the ball following a bad snap. BYU player Cameron Jensen is in pursuit.

The loose ball prompted Holt's title of the piece. Fans will remember the final score: 33-31, BYU.

But with the basement decor's red accents, Holt's feelings may be more transparent than the title implies.

e-mail: jnicholls@desnews.com

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