GOLF MOVIES: HERE’S THE BEST OF THEM

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Freelance sportswriter Tim Ellis looks at the golf movie scene and selects the five films he believes stand out the most.

When considering the best golfing movies of all time, you might be able to count them on the grooves of one knuckle.
However, golf movies there have been – some serious, some slapstick and some sour. Just don’t mention The Legend of Bagger Vance..
But here, starting with Happy Gilmore, is my personal selection of the best all-time golf movies:
HAPPY GILMORE (1996): Boo Weekley’s antics on the first tee during the Ryder Cup Sunday singles evoked memories of this Adam Sandler vehicle that chronicles a head case hockey player who shatters the peaceful surrounds of the US PGA tour.
Sandler may not be to everyone’s taste, but he is suitably riotous here as the redneck of the fairways. This movie is unsubtle in big bold letters and its standout moments rely on an OD of slapstick. Just for the record, Sandler has a 16 handicap last time we looked and is a regular in the Sony Pro-Am tournament.
This clip is for fledgling McEnroes of the golf course: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBWpq3y9KqI
TIN CUP (1996): Easier on the eye and ear than Happy, Tin Cup proves that Kevin Costner can act with a golf club as well as a baseball in his hand.
Generally well-received at time of release, the movie features Costner as washed-up golfer Roy AcAvoy who runs a failing driving range until redemption comes along in the form of Rene Russo. Her attachment to his old friend, a smug golf pro played by Don Johnson, gives him the necessary kick to enter the US Open.
Costner trained for the role with former pro and TV commentator Gary McCord. The scene at the end of the movie was based on McCord’s attempts to win a tournament with a birdie at the last. He got it down in 15. If you can’t remember how many Kevin took, watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbwRUGSkWug
THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED (2005): An interesting spin on the true story of the 1913 US Open at Brookline played out between the great Brits of the time, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, and the eventual winner, a 20-year-old amateur Frances Ouimet.
Ouimet was from the working-class, non-golfing territory of Massachusetts, battling against the prejudice of the Establishment as much as the power of the British Isles. A Walt Disney production, the flick wallows in the spirit of triumph against the odds to some queasy effect. Reviews were mixed, but it certainly taps into the golfer’s mentality better than most.
Shia LaBeouf is quietly impressive as the hero and has no doubt about the importance of his character in history – Ouimet was the first American to bring golf to regular people. He was like Jackie Robinson. He completely revolutionized golf. Now it isn’t a hobby for the rich; it’s an American sport.
CADDYSHACK (1980): The Great Grand-daddy to Happy Gilmore, Caddyshack is juvenile, crude and funny in a dumb and dumber style. Its cult status hides the fact that many of the gags fall flat.
Making an obvious play on the inverted snobbery of the Bushwood Country Club, the movie is primarily a showcase for Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and Rodney Dangerfield to wisecrack and goof, which they do well, helped by the rather liberal framework provided by director Harold Ramis.
Murray has a good turn as a mad groundskeeper with a penchant for blowing up gophers, but Dangerfield steals the movie playing an obnoxious wealthied boor.
Here’s a classic clip of some foul play on the fairway: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvHJx7ilSfQ
FOLLOW THE SUN: THE BEN HOGAN STORY (1951): At least a John Daly drive better than 2004’s box office flop, Bobby Jones: A Stroke of Genius, Follow The Sun chronicles Hogan’s rise from a poverty-stricken upbringing into one of the greatest players that ever lived.
The movie also outlines how Hogan’s Faldo-like exterior on the course was changed by the sheer weight of goodwill after a car crash that threatened his career.
Glenn Ford, no mean player himself, is steely enough in the title role and the film is notable for guest appearances by Sam Snead and three-time Masters winner Jimmy Demaret. Made by Twentieth Century Fox, the biopic has been criticised for being historically inaccurate and creating a fictional rival called Chuck Williams.
Ultimately, though, it’s a powerful story that carries the piece.
AN HONOURABLE MENTION: DEAD SOLID PERFECT (1988)
Based on the book by Dan Jenkins, Randy Quaid does an impressive turn as a PGA pro who can’t avoid temptations off the course.

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