February 13, 2024

Five Questions with Cassy Tully

By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA

Wisconsin native Cassy Tully has used her artistic abilities to highlight the game of golf through her paintings and artwork. Tully has worked with the PGA of America and PGA REACH, the Western Golf Association and its Evans Scholars Foundation, the United States Golf Association, the Veteran Golfers Association, the Arnold Palmer Foundation and golf club manufacturer XXIO, to name a few associations in the game of golf.

Her art is showcased at iconic golf clubs and destinations, including the Union League of Philadelphia, Yellowstone Country Club, Rich Harvest Farms, The Cliffs at Mountain Park and Desert Mountain Club. Her art is available in Kohler, Wisconsin at John Michael Kohler Arts Center ARTspace, Whistling Straits, Blackwolf Run, The American Club, the Kohler Waters Spa and Riverbend.

With that stellar resume, Cassy Tully was gracious enough to let us take a look behind the canvas at the artist herself in this edition of Five Questions.

Golf Range Magazine: Where and when did you get your start in art, and what mentors helped guide your way?

Cassy Tully: My parents, Tim and Pat Tully, have always been my greatest champions. In fact, my first painting was a paint-by-number of a horse when I was just four years old. I remember working quietly on the small wooden table that my great-grandfather made. I sat just outside my dad’s office as he clicked away on the family bills on his old-school desktop printing calculator. My dad, who sadly passed away three years ago, was the Mayor of New Berlin, Wisconsin and a business consultant. My brilliant mother was a high school math teacher. Without their love and support, I would not be the artist or business owner I am today.

My high school art teacher, Heidi Herbst, helped me build the foundation I needed to become an artist. She recognized that I had a very academic approach to art, and encouraged my pre-college studies at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and several art competitions.

I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. During college, I did a contemporary art survey in New York and a workshop at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, Colorado. One of the most meaningful opportunities I had was a college capstone project in Florence, Italy. With the aid of a grant and fellowship, the goal here was to write a thesis on 15C Relief Artwork. I studied this relief painting, which became my signature technique – a dimensional approach that blends traditional sculpting techniques with modern painting materials. The result increases the surface texture and provides an illusion of perspective.

After college, I worked at Monroe Street Arts Center in Madison, Wisconsin and got a job as an assistant at a high-end design studio in Kohler. I established my business, Cassy Tully – Fine Art, in May 2008 and have been a full-time artist for 15 years.

Golf Range Magazine: What is your history in golf, and when did you decide to combine your affinity for the game with your extensive artistic skills and expertise?

Cassy Tully: My golf journey began when I was an artist in residence and interior design assistant at an interior design studio in the Shops at Woodlake in Kohler, Wisconsin. Inspired by a Scottish landscape painting that I had created for a design proposal, a client of the interior design studio commissioned me to paint Whistling Straits for her husband as a Christmas gift. I had two weeks to paint this first golf course commission, but she insisted I see the course first. So, I lined up a meeting with the pro shop, and a greenskeeper showed me around at sunrise.

The calm, chilly December air, paired with the sound of Lake Michigan waves lapping the shoreline, captivated me. I took in the golden light falling over the fescue of the 17th hole and knew my future as a golf artist was beginning. I collected some sand from a bunker and incorporated it into the paint to remind myself of that moment. Super motivated and inspired, I rushed back to my studio to complete the commission. From there, I created a series of paintings for the design studio, based on the darling black-faced sheep grazing the Straits. The series sold out in a month. 

With these paintings connecting with collectors, I approached Kohler Co. for a partnership and to offer their share of the proceeds. After six months of pursuing Kohler, I finally received approval for an initial meeting. I created a portfolio of 15 small original paintings, six of which immediately sold to a corporate collector. I began my partnership with Kohler Co. in 2010 when I created artwork exclusively available at Whistling Straits. I was invited to attend the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, and my eyes were opened to championship golf artwork.

I worked with Josué Reyes, then PGA of America Director of Retail for Destination Kohler and Destination St. Andrews. Josué is an award-winning PGA of America Golf Professional and the CEO of Reyes Retail. He was a key mentor in teaching me how to grow my artwork through professional merchandising. 

Jim Richerson, who was elected the 42nd president of the PGA of America, in addition to serving as the PGA of America General Manager and Group Director of Golf at Kohler Co., was another early supporter. To this day, he continues to encourage my growth as an artist.

I built a Kohler-inspired portfolio of art, including Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run Golf Course, which hosted the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open, creating the official artwork for this event. 

From there, I went on to create artwork for six BMW Championships, the 2015 PGA Championship, the 43rd Ryder Cup Matches, the Veteran Golfers Association Championship and many member-guest tournaments at countless country clubs. I have also captured the essence of several beautiful global destinations for my diverse private and corporate patrons.

Golf Range Magazine: Please tell us about other projects that you’ve done.

Cassy Tully: Back in 2015, I created a member-guest tee gift for members of Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. I also created artwork and prints, which were dual-signed by me and Jack Nicklaus.

After the 43rd Ryder Cup in 2021, I was commissioned to create two original paintings for Yellowstone Country Club in Billings, Montana. As part of this commission, the club hosted me for their member-guest tournament, which allowed me to interact with more than 200 players and showcase my artwork. Talking with the members, personalizing prints and hearing about their relationship with the sport was very rewarding and deepened their connection to my art. Plus, the club received timeless masterpieces for their collection, and I offered a unique tee gift and in-person experience. I am thankful that these opportunities paved the way for my future in providing a memorable member-guest art and personal experience.

This led to my partnership with XXIO, in which I created a signature collection of prints for an in-person artist meet-and-greet. I also signed my prints at their Father-Son tournament in Pebble Beach, along with attending their dealer conferences at Whistling Straits and Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina.

I also look forward to building upon experiences from recent tournaments at The Cliffs in Greenville, South Carolina; Lake Forest Country Club in Louisville, Kentucky and the 2022 Western Amateur at North Shore Country Club in Glenview, Illinois.

Finally, I am proud that 2023 marked my 15th anniversary in business, having established my first art studio in Plymouth, Wisconsin in 2008. I built that initial location into a downtown destination with a gallery and framing shop. Thanks to the support and patronage of my collectors, I was able to move to a beautiful space in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward in 2018. This was the ideal location to partner with the Milwaukee Brewers baseball organization, as I created two identical paintings in 2020 that celebrated the club’s 50th anniversary.

Golf Range Magazine: Can you tell us about your philanthropic efforts?

Cassy Tully: My roots in philanthropy come from the surroundings I grew up in. I have always felt called to use my talents to make a difference in the world.

As I started my career as an artist, I worked with non-profit organizations and big-name corporations in hosting and supporting black-tie and major philanthropic events. These organizations paved the way for my art to be included in live auctions and philanthropic partnerships while building my business in Wisconsin. I created original paintings for charity events, and these organizations bid generously to further a wide range of causes that benefited the community.

I’ve been able to “give back” by creating art for six BMW Championships, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Evans Scholars Foundation, a program that sends deserving caddies to college. I love meeting the caddies and their families while signing prints at the BMW Championship, as the scholarships provided by the Evans Scholars program are truly life-changing.

In 2022, I traveled to Maryland after the BMW Championship for a very special event. Living the Dream, my painting for the Zaching Against Cancer Foundation, was auctioned at a gala to benefit the foundation.

Golf Range Magazine: What does 2024 hold in store for Cassy Tully?

Cassy Tully: I recently attended the PGA Show in Orlando for the 10th time and visited with friends in the golf industry and my ever-growing network of LinkedIn connections.

In addition, I will be expanding my portfolio of member-guest tournaments in 2024, as well as continuing my travels for golf-inspired commissions and creating more custom and original paintings. Having recently had the opportunity to sign prints at the Union League of Philadelphia and provide a live painting at Riverbend in Kohler, I’d love to incorporate live painting into more tournaments and philanthropic events.

I never really dreamed past owning my storefront, so looking ahead feels like the world is open to opportunities I haven’t even dreamed of yet. I am happier and more supported in life and love and have settled into my new studio and cowgirl lifestyle in Billings, Montana. I am carving out a life only God Himself and my Daddy in heaven above could have dreamed for me. 

I have a large-scale masterpiece on the easel and the most rewarding partnerships and patrons who will make 2024 the best year of my life. However, none of this would be possible without my talented team. From communications to planning to expert printing, this core team means the world to me and allows me to offer a level of professionalism to meet each club’s needs.

Finally, I am honored to be painting a large-scale commission working with the talented team at Jack Porter to create a 10-foot masterpiece for the University of Alabama’s new golf facility showcasing a signature hole on their beautiful new course.

I am thankful to kick off the year with the opportunity to share my story, and I will continue to share light and joy, using my talent and love of golf to make a difference in the lives of others, serving as a model of success to inspire other creative people. That brings rewards far beyond my easel.