The Best Golf Movies

Seven Days In Utopia, a movie based on the book Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia  is set to debut Sept. 2. I’ve got some hopes for this one, based on the official trailer:

Golf movies have a pretty spotty track record. Most haven’t been very good. But in that spirit, I thought I’d reprint my list of the best golf movies. A word of caution. This isn’t comprehensive, and represents only those that I’ve actually seen:

1. The Greatest Game Ever Played

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.

2. Dead Solid Perfect

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.

4. Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius


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.


6. 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.

7. The Legend of Bagger Vance
Based on the bestselling book. I didn’t really like this movie after the first couple of viewings, but it is growing on me.

8. Follow the Sun
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.Caddyshack
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.

9. Gentleman’s Game
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.

10. Miracle on the 17th Green
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

12. 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.

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3 thoughts on “The Best Golf Movies”

  1. I don’t consider Happy Gilmore a golf movie.  I do like the movie, but it isn’t a golf movie.  The only case you might make for it being a golf movie is that Lee Travino is in it. 

    Caddyshack is a different thing.  It was made by guys who love the game and the movie revolves around the club and the course.  It is so fully ingrained in the golf culture now I don’t know how you separate it either.  I would rate Caddyshack as probably #2 or #3.  Greatest Game and Stroke of Genius would be my other ones in the top 3.

    I am looking forward to Seven Days.

  2. HG ‘not a golf movie’. The whole movie is about a golf that plays pro golf. Sure, it doesn’t take golf seriously, but the whole movie is about the sport. What are your standards for a ‘golf movie’?

    Also, anyone have any ideas for books that they’d like to see turned into a golf movie? Or general plot ideas for a golf movie?

    My ideas:
    -I’d like to see a movie focused on women’s golf.

    -I also think that Angel Cabrera’s life story (dirt poor caddy to Master’s / US Open Champ) would make for a great story.

    -A movie about a college golf team.

    -And in general, a ‘Ryder Cup’ themed movie, a la ‘Miracle’, could work as a fluffy Disney-type family movie.

    -Also, I’d like to see an honest look at the “rough” jobs in golf, such as Assistant Pro or an immigrant making minimum wage working on the grounds crew at a private club.

    -Another interesting movie could be on the golf boom in China: perhaps a story about an American Golf Pro sent to make big bucks (and be an isolated abroad, a la the 1994 film ‘Barcelona’) at a resort in booming China.

    What about best golf scenes in a non-golf movie? -I remember ‘The Aviator’ (Leo D movie on Howard Hughes) had a great golf scene with Katherine Hepburn. Very beautiful photography / old fashioned clubs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXjCj86GB-I

    -And certainly James Bond in ‘Goldfinger’. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65nNcNiwJHM&feature=BFp&list=WLD701F004170B3C46&index=1

    And, briefly, in one of my favorite movies, Bill Murray golfs solo in Japan in ‘Lost In Translation’.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGQwWvk7dIU

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