Michael Renouf rounds up the 10 best golf films of all time. Give his list a read and see if you agree
It’s the question we all want answering: What are the best golf films of all time? Here’s the definitive run down. See if you can spot the notable omission…
The 10 best golf films: 10. The Legend of Bagger Vance
This movie certainly has star power with Hollywood heavyweights Will Smith, Matt Damon and Charlize Theron filling the three most prominent roles under the directing watch of Robert Redford.
Rannulph Junuh (Damon) and Adele Invergordon (Theron) are sweethearts when Junuh, who happens to be the local golf hero goes off to serve in the Great War. When he eventually returns to Savannah, Georgia, many years later he has “lost his swing” and therefore all interest in the game.
Around this time Adele inherits the local golf club after her father commits suicide because of the Great Depression. She’s in need of cash and comes up with the bright idea of a challenge match between two golfing greats the real life Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen. But, a local angle is needed so Junuh is convinced to play – in no small part thanks to the mysterious caddie Bagger Vance (Smith), who suddenly shows up in town at just the right time. Unusually, this wily caddie does not really give advice but just poses questions and dilemmas.
Did you know? Matt Damon had never played golf before and Tim Moss, who was hired to coach him, had only 28 days to make him look convincing on the big screen. They practiced with both hickory shaft and modern clubs.
The 10 best golf films: 9. Happy Gilmore
Adam Sandler plays Happy Gilmore, the ace ice hockey player who becomes a golfer. Well that’s not quite true – he would like to be a hockey superstar but, he can’t actually skate very well and has a temper that he loses quicker than the babysitter’s boyfriend is out the back door when you get home – especially if he knows you’ve had a bad round.
The two things he does possess however are a ferocious shot and a loving grandma who he lives with – because of what the game of hockey has done to his parents.
Unfortunately, grandma has not paid her taxes for several years and sees her house repossessed and has only 90 days to raise the money to buy it back.
Happy discovers he has an amazing golf drive and starts to hustle money to try to improve his grandma’s situation and is spotted by Chubbs (Carl Weathers) who persuades him to enter a qualifying tournament which, if he wins, means he can join the pro tour. Of course, he does, but not everybody welcomes the foul mouthed, short-tempered newcomer.
Can Happy raise the money he needs? Can he learn to putt? Can golf handle him and his fans?
The 10 best golf films: 8. Tin Cup
Kevin Costner portrays Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy, a golf range driving pro who, when he puts his mind to it, has an amazing game. The problem is, he has about as much mental control of his limbs as an ice-skating Bambi and believes both his game and personal life have to be lived on the front foot, at all times.
Roy is happy with his squalid existence living in a Winnebago, in Salome, West Texas – with an outside spa – until Dr Molly Griswold (Rene Russo) shows up for private lessons and waggles her way into the heart of our flawed hero.
At the same time his old friend/nemesis David Simms – smoothly played by Don Johnson of white suited Miami Vice fame – reappears in Salome and we have ourselves a good old fashioned love triangle as David not only has the career Roy craves, he is also the current beau of the lovely doctor.
This spurs on the best player to never make it to attempt an ambitious double – qualify for the U.S. Open and win the heart of Molly – something he needs help with on both counts from his caddy, Romeo (Cheeh Marin).
The film is all set to a fantastic soundtrack featuring Bruce Hornsby, George Jones and Buddy Guy among others.
Did you know? Director Ron Shelton often writes or directs films about sports. As well as golf he has made movies about baseball, basketball and boxing.
The 10 best golf films: 7. Swing Away
We all know the origins of the modern game were developed in Scotland or was it Greece?
Swing Away is a little known 2016 release about Zoe Papadopoulos who, while playing on the LPGA and suffering from the yips, has a meltdown and throws a hissy fit Elton John would be proud of.
To get away she jets off to her grandparents stunningly beautiful whitewashed village on the Greek island of Rhodes.
Here, by chance she meets Stella, an aspiring young golfer who cannot afford to play on the local course and the two form a friendship with Zoe becoming Stella’s golfing mentor.
Because of the financial crisis, the village has sold the aforementioned club to “a rude American” and is run by “a stupid Greek”.
Zoe ends up working here and tries to help not only Stella with her game but the local villagers with theirs and more.
Less intense than a lot of the other movies on this list but a worthwhile gentle film that non-golfers would embrace, thanks in a way to the stunning scenery.
Did you know? John O’Hurley, the baddie of this flick, is a keen golfer who plays off a single-digit handicap.
The 10 best golf films: 6. Seve the Movie
Seve the Movie is the life story of one of the most charismatic and likeable golfers of all time.
Seve Ballesteros, or Ballerina Sevesteros as he was once introduced, was a golf obsessed young boy who used to skip school to practice on the local beaches, with his only club – a 3-iron – in the small village of Padrena in Northern Spain where he grew up in a tight-knit family.
The film is told in English and Spanish, with subtitles where appropriate, and includes film of the man himself throughout the movie. Although this sounds like it may take you out of the film it does not, if anything it strengthens the viewing pleasure.
Director John-Paul Davidson shows us where Seve got his tremendous will to win and what golf meant to this extremely talented individual, as well as what he meant to the game of golf.
The ending, what an ending!
There are better overall golf films, but none with such an emotional finish – one that gives a small glimpse of the high regard that the golfer and more importantly the man, was held in by his fellow pros.
Turn the page to find out what’s No. 1 as our best golf films countdown continues…