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Dublin: 12 °C Saturday 25 October, 2014

Open season: The 6 best golf movies ever

What do Big Boi, the 1913 US Open and Bill Murray have in common? They all feature in our countdown of the best movies that the golf has to offer. Have your say in our poll.

Adam Sandler plays golf in real life too, apparently.
Adam Sandler plays golf in real life too, apparently.

SINCE MOVIES BEGAN, Hollywood and the sport of golf have had a special relationship that has produced countless classic films… Well okay, maybe not.

But with the British Open coming up, we thought it would be appropriate to pick the six best golf movies (or least worst depending on your perspective). So here they are… And no, Goldfinger doesn’t count sadly…

6. The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)

Premise: Based on a true story, the film is the standard underdog story (ie like every other good sports movie), chronicling Francis Ouimet’s attempts to win the US Open in 1913. Despite having a working-class background, Ouimet entered the 1913 Open as an amateur whose participation was treated as a joke in some quarters. British golfer Harry Vardon, on the other hand, was the strong favourite to win. This Shia LaBeouf-starring film documents their rivalry.

What the critics said:

“Predictable though it is, the picture is rousing and well paced, and the final competition is effectively suspenseful.” AO Scott, The New York Times.

Why it’s on the list: It’s the golfing equivalent of the Rocky movies, only it actually happened.


5. Pat and Mike (1952)

Katharine Hepburn (Pat) and Spencer Tracy (Mike) star in that rarest of beasts – a sporting romantic comedy. Pat is a star of both the tennis and golfing worlds, but becomes nervous and unable to play well due to her overbearing fiance’s disconcerting influence on her. She soon breaks up with him, and starts a romantic relationship with Mike. It’s not the most complicated storyline ever conceived, but it’s an enjoyable film nonetheless.

What the critics said: “One of the season’s gayest comedies.” Time Magazine.

Why it’s on the list: Sports movies rarely, if ever, attract stars as big as Tracy or Hepburn.

(N.B. Worst trailer ever)


4. Who’s Your Caddy? (2007)

A hip-hop star (played by Outkast’s Big Boi) is not allowed to become a member of an exclusive country club, causing the protagonist to be outraged and to subsequently come up with a dastardly scheme to alter this ruling. He purchases property next to the 18th hole, forcing the club to make him a member and prompting the locals to plot his downfall and attempt to get him kicked out.

What the critics said: “Where Caddy really shines is in the supporting comedy ensemble, which acts like a demented Greek chorus, tossing out bits of incongruous dialogue that hit the funny bone more often than not.” John Anderson, Newsday.

Why it’s on the list: It’s so bad, it’s good.


3. Happy Gilmore (1996)

Premise: A failed ice hockey player (Adam Sandler) discovers he’s an excellent golfer. His successful and controversial approach (he swears and engages in on-course violence) attracts a whole new audience to the game of golf. Meanwhile, he needs to win 270,000 dollars to prevent his grandmother from losing her home, and so must defeat rival Shooter McGavin to win the tournament’s prize money.

What the critics said: “From beginning to end, there’s not a slow moment in “Happy Gilmore,” the Tiger Woods of gleefully idiotic comedy.” Phil Villarreal, Arizona Daily Star.

Why it’s on the list: It’s the ultimate guilty pleasure movie – you shouldn’t laugh but you can’t help it.


2. The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)

Premise: Junuh, a once-great golfer who has become an alcoholic, is persuaded to return to the game for a charity match. He is a pale shadow of his former self until Bagger Vance (Will Smith) agrees to become his caddy, proceeding to guide him with worldly wisdom. Golf becomes a symbol for his emotional well-being in this Robert Redford-directed film.

What the critics said: “It handles a sports movie the way Billie Holiday handled a trashy song, by finding the love and pain beneath the story.” Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

Why it’s on the list: It’s much more ambitious than than the majority of sports films.


1. Caddyshack (1980)

Premise: The plot (if the film can be considered to have one) revolves around a country club in which a series of hilarious incidents take place, featuring characters played by Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and Rodney Dangerfield. A young caddy attempts to win a scholarship off the owner of the country club so he can get into college. He proceeds to encounter a number of quirky characters during his time at the club.    

What the critics said: “It’s not big and it’s not clever, but it’s very, very funny.” Clark Colis, Empire Magazine.

Why it’s on the list: It’s one of the funniest cult movies ever.


What is the best golf movie ever?


Poll Results:










In the swing: guess who we think will win the Open…

Read more: Grantland: the best and worst from the first 30 days>


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