On Saturday, I did an interview with a reporter on golf movies. He wanted to know what makes a good golf movie. The answer: the same thing that makes any movie good—good characters and a good story.
Since its been a while since I updated my post on golf movies, I thought I’d better do so ahead of the article:
GolfBlgoger’s Best Golf Movies
This is by no means a comprehensive list of golf movies, but only counts those I have actually seen. It also is limited to movies that have golf as a primary plot point.
A faithful adaptation of the book that plays well on the big screen. Its no wonder, the author, Mark Frost, once wrote the tv series Hill Street Blues. The casting is perfect and the story compelling. It’s the original David and Goliath sports story. There are a lot of subtle bits in this movie , though, that people who didn’t read the book will miss. For example, the book goes into a great deal on the class conflict between the professionals and the amateurs. If you didn’t read the book, you’ll miss the point that the professionals are always referred to by their first names—Harry Vardon—while the amateurs are referred to with a honorific—Mr. Ouimet.
Based on the Dan Jenkins novel, this originally appeared on cable. It follows a struggling professional golfer—played by Randy Quaid—as he travels about on tour. Very funny.
3. Tin Cup
This Kevin Costner movie is like Bull Durham for golf. Costner plays a washed up driving range pro who decides to play in the US Open to win the heart of a girl. It’s most famous for the scene where he plunks ball after ball into a pond on the last hole of the Open. It’s a good romantic comedy.
While this movie may be a bit slow for non-golfers, anyone who loves golf and history should find it enjoyable. Jim Caviezel does a good job of portraying the stress that Jones went through in playing in golf championships.
5. Pat and Mike
A Spencer Tracy – Katharine Hepburn classic. Hepburn plays a championship woman golfer. The movie is basically another of their man vs woman screwball comedies.
Based on the bestselling book. I didn’t really like this movie after the first couple of viewings, but it is growing on me.
A 1950s biopix of Ben Hogan, Follow The Sun is more than a bit hokey. Still, it does offer a glimpse into the life of traveling tour pros of the time.
Ok. It’s a comedy classic, but I can’t rank it any higher as a golf movie. Like most guys, I can quote large chunks of the movie from memory.
Based on the novel by Tom Coyne, A Gentleman’s Game is a coming-of-age story. Timmy Price—a good golfer in his own right—is forced by his father to work as a caddy at the country club to which they belong. There, he learns a few dark secrets.
Robert Urich stars in this made-for-tv movie about an ad executive who loses his job and tries out for the Senior Tour. He catches fire when he suddenly begins seeing the magic line on his putts. It was a Christmas time movie, and was enjoyable.
11. Happy Gilmore. I can’t stand Adam Sandler.
HONORABLE MENTION Bobby Jones: How I Play Golf
After his playing career was over, Bobby Jones made a series of short films of golf instruction. It’s instruction, but also an amusing entertainment. The format of each short is the same: Jones meets a Hollywood star who is struggling with his game, and then offers a lesson. Among the stars are W.C. Fields, James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Joe Brown and many more. The setup for the lessons often are quite funny and entertaining.