What makes a great golf movie? For me, there needs to be a reason to cheer for the main character, typically the underdog, a strong villain to root against, and some great comedic moments even if the movie isn’t specifically a comedy, because the best rounds of golf include some great moments of laughter.
The reason for the season, 25 years ago this week my favourite golf movie came out. Growing up in Canada, the story of a failed hockey player with a wicked slapshot becoming a golfer as a plan b hit every note for me. Throw in some gator wrasslin’ and batting cage time to toughen himself up for next years hockey tryouts and this absolute loose cannon would be a wild time to be out on the course with. I enjoy every part of this movie, the music, the humour and I dreamed of taking Julie Bowen skating sometime to Endless Love. Beyond the comedy, this film does a great job showing the mental side of the game. How sometimes, instead of freaking out, you need to go to your happy place, take a deep breath, and make your shot.
The Legend of Bagger Vance
The movie starts with the narrator nearly having a heart attack after hitting his ball into the woods, a feeling most of us can sympathize with. We are then led on the journey of a man who returned from the first world war with serious PTSD and is unable to find himself. With the help of a kind caddy and young man who loves the game, Captain Junuh starts to believe in himself again and, well, no spoilers. There are many relatable moments in this movie, times when having a guiding voice just nudge you in the right direction is all you need. I love when Bagger suggest to Junuh to “Just bash the living s&@! out of it” after suggesting he hit a driving iron instead of his driver. This movie wasn’t well received when it came out but it’s hard to go wrong with Matt Damon and Will Smith as the leading men.
Big star of the ‘90s, Kevin Costner plays washed up golf pro Roy McAvoy, a man with the most serious case of the yips you’re likely to find. There are days where we feel like we can’t find the centre of the club face, but that doesn’t typically happen to the pros. Of course, there’s a love interest involved and a wise cracking caddy (Cheech Marin). My favourite scene in any golf movie is when he breaks all of his clubs and has to play the whole back nine with his 7 iron. Costner really does a great job establishing his his character as a hot head, a trait that doesn’t often work out well for a golfer.
The Greatest Game Ever Played
Shia LaBeouf in his prime. Portraying a young Francis Ouimet, he struggles just to gain entry into tournaments, let alone win them. Based on a true story, the young man from this working class family has to overcome class, family pressure and the elements to try to make a name for himself in the world of golf and gain the approval of his father, as well as the gentlemen from the club.
Where to begin? This star-studded lineup keeps the laughter rolling from start to finish. How could you possibly go wrong with Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield in the cast? Not every golf film covers just about every aspect of a golf course, the caddies, the maintenance staff, the players and the club management, and the story is better for it. And, let’s be honest, we all want that unreal golf bag!
The most recent movie in this list to come out. Here we see the tale of Old Tom Morris, regarded as the founding father of modern golf, and his son, Young Tom, prolific player pushing the boundaries of being able to play golf professionally. This movie does a great job telling the story of golf transitioning from being dominated by the gentlemen to where it is now, enjoyed by millions around the world. This story parallels society shifting away from the long tradition of being born into a certain station and not being able to progress above it. This young mans ambition and skill allow him to dream of bigger things than making clubs and caddying for the rich. He wants more, and goes out to get it.