Editor’s note: This is a guest post of the best golf movies ever made. The author, David Bryce, is an online publisher for the Thousand Hills Golf Resort in Branson, MO. He blogs on the topics of golf, travel, and vacations.
While enthusiasts and swingers of the club cry out in protest, the fact of the matter is that golf just isn’t that exciting to watch. Only with Tiger Woods did the sport become a media frenzy, but other that the stereotype was largely true. Rich, white men walked around swinging at a little ball. No offense meant, the difficulty and skill on the Tour is something to be appreciated, but that makes for a hard sell to the general public to get up and cheer for. That is why movies have been such a good medium to get golf to the masses. Below are some of the best movies about golf. Some are silly, some are profoundly serious, but all of them helped the game in one way or another.
Here are some of the greatest golf movies ever made:
While the film may lack direction or a strong plot, it still delivers the laughs. This now cult comedy is a must see for golfers as it serves as a reminder that the fun can be lost if the game is taken too seriously. The over the top characters hit many of the golf club stereotypes. There is the ultra-proper and conservative Judge played by Ted Knight, the lazy caddies headed by Michael O’Keefe, the aloof playboy played by Chevy Chase, and the seemingly random but hilarious groundskeeper played by Bill Murray. The big names of comedy don’t really work together in this film and largely do their own thing, which does not help for a smooth transition, but is still funny. Not to be taken seriously, at all, Caddyshack brings a humorous world of golf to a much broader audience.
Tin Cup (1996):
This film straddles the borders of comedy, romance, and sports without setting up shop in any genre exclusively. While this might seem like a recipe for a thin story, director Ron Shelton pulls it off. The movie’s protagonist is played by Kevin Costner and the role of Roy McAvoy seems to be written for him. The middle-aged slob is a golfing genius but he lacks the mental resolve to play on the Tour. It’s not that he’s not tough enough, it’s that he’s too tough and wants to go big – which ultimately leads to him going home. A love interest is his motivation to get back into the game and is the spark of much of the humorous dialogue and situations. Taken alone – the comedy, romance, or sport coverage – there isn’t much to write home about, but together they find the right blend that highlights golf in a medium that anyone can enjoy.
The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005):
Unfortunately this film is not the greatest one ever made, but it does a good job of trying. Director Bill Paxton layers in a fight against class systems and the exclusiveness of golf as the protagonist swings his way through the U.S. Open. The Greatest Game Ever Played tells the story of amateur golfer Fancis Ouimet (played by Shia LaBeouf) who won the 1913 U.S. Open by beating the world great Harry Vardon.
While the sports story is incredible, the movie gains traction with the general audience by telling Francis’ and Harry’s personal stories. Both men come from humble backgrounds that do not lend themselves to the gentleman’s world of golf. The underdog story is an over told one, but it is a favorite and it takes a back seat in this film. The extensive golfing is also made more exciting with a breadth of angles and
viewpoints – including views from the balls perspective—that makes the sport friendlier for people used to faster paced games.
There are many documentaries that follow the current pros rises and falls (see: Tiger Woods) as well but these are a few of the best golf movies for major audiences that have been made. While Caddyshack might be hated by golf purists, it still follows the old mantra of “any press is good press.” This list is not exclusive or expansive, and there are some other movies worth mentioning. The Legend of Bagger Vance and Happy Gilmore (same category as Caddyshack) have also done well as far as reaching out past the average golfer and promoting the sport, even if the last laugh is at golf’s expense.