There are dozens of golf-themed movies that have rolled through Hollywood over the years. From huge successes like Happy Gilmore to cult classics like Caddyshack, even non-golfers can appreciate the films that have featured the green.
But there are so many more films actually set on the golf course that aren’t necessarily big-budget Hollywood blockbusters. These films take a look at what actually happens on the real course, not just through a movie set.
Many movies set on the golf course are actually documentaries or features about some of the world’s greatest golfers and their amazing stories. These movies give audiences a chance to see some of the globe’s most beautiful golf courses and the best players to hit the links.
So, what are some of the most notable movies set on the golf course?
Jack Nicklaus isn’t just one of the greatest golfers to ever play the game. He’s become an American sports icon. That’s why he’s been the subject of multiple golf films, documentaries, and interview series, including Winning and 86, about his 1986 Masters’ Championship. Nicklaus has even been covered in fictional films, including Becoming Redwood, where the premise of the movie revolves around a little boy beating Jack Nicklaus at his own game.
But, the 2017 film Jack is truly one of the best when it comes to an accurate depiction of Nicklaus’ life on the course.
The film, originally aired on the Golf Channel, is a biography picture that features tons of archived footage from Nicklaus’ career. If you’ve ever wanted to see a movie with a golf course as a backdrop, start here! Of course, the movie also contains interviews from those who know Niklaus best, and those who have supported him throughout his career. It shows Nicklaus’ life off the golf course, too, which adds a touch of humanity to the movie that not all sports biopics tend to have.
Because Nicklaus is still a fixture in the golf community, there could be another biopic released about him 10 years from now with just as much footage on a golf course.
If you’re a fan of golf or you’re new to the sport and want a baseline education, learning as much as you can about Jack Nicklaus is the way to go. The movie Jack is a great place to start. He is a fantastic figure of sportsmanship (as seen in the 1969 Ryder Cup), a philanthropist, and a family man who could turn anyone into a golf lover.
2. Famous Five
It’s probably easy for most people to rattle off the names of a few famous American golfers, even if you don’t follow the sport. But one of the best movies set on the golf course actually features five European golfers on their revitalization of the Ryder Cup.
Released in 2018, Famous Five focuses on Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, and Ian Woosnam. These five European golfers changed the face of golf on a global scale, and the film showcases just how that happened.
The Ryder Cup was dominated by Americans for many years. So much so, that it almost became an obsolete competition. The men featured in the film started to make major changes to that particular competition, giving Europeans the edge and the recognition they needed in the world of golf to make it more of an international phenomenon than ever before.
So, if you thought golf was just for Americans, think again. Famous Five offers a unique, documentary-style perspective on global golf and how important it is across the pond. Not only will you learn about new names and faces, but you’ll be able to better appreciate how hard these particular men worked to make a name for European golf in an American-dominated industry.
3. Go Down Swinging: The 1999 Open at Carnoustie
When you think of golf, action, suspense, and drama probably don’t come immediately to mind. It’s not really a contact sport or one you need to keep your eyes on every second in case something quick and exciting happens. While there have been some scandals, including steroid use within the PGA that can lead to things like kidney damage, aggression, and increased risk of heart attack, golf itself has remained pretty under the radar when it comes to a lot of drama. This is especially true when it’s compared to other professional sports, like football.
But in the case of the 1999 Open, the scene played out like a scripted Hollywood drama on the golf course. The film Go Down Swinging recounts the story of professional golfer Jean van de Velde in a pivotal moment in his career. He held a 3-shot lead at the 72nd hole of the tournament. At the hole, van de Velde seemed to lose everything with each stroke, missing his shot again and again. His lead completely collapsed on a par-4 hole and he went on to lose the tournament.
What’s interesting about this movie is that they feature an interview from van de Velde himself. He takes you through what was going through his mind during each of those shots, as he saw his victory crumbling before his eyes. The movie also features interviews from others who were there at the time, as well as footage on the course from the tournament to give you the feeling of really being there.
The story itself continues to go down in golf history as one of the most dramatic tournament collapses ever. Simply put, things like that just don’t happen in the game of golf. So, if you’re looking for a bit of drama with your documentary, look no further than this piece.
The Real Appeal of GolfIt’s really no wonder why there are so many movies about golf — both on the big screen and on television. Whether you enjoy the appeal of scripted Hollywood movies or the real-life drama and history behind some of golf’s greatest stories, it’s clear that the fascination with the sport isn’t going anywhere any time soon. In fact, there was even a documentary released in 2003 showcasing just how passionate golf fans could really be.
You don’t have to be a huge golf fan to appreciate the artistry and creativity behind some of the films listed here. They combine great storytelling with some of golf’s greatest players, and showcase some of the best courses across the country. Whether you’re a golf lover or just a movie buff, you’ll appreciate these films.
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