Greatest Golf Movies Ever Made

Alright Rock Heads, any big-time movie buffs out there? This Caveman may never make the guest list at a Hollywood Hills party, but I sure do enjoy watchin’ movies whenever I get the chance! Unfortunately, there really aren’t that many flicks that focus on my first love, golf. To prove my point, I threw together this list of the best (and worst!) golf movies ever made.

#5. The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005) – Shia LeBouf, Bill Paxton
Based on the true story of Francis Ouimett and how he overcame prejudice to not only gain entrance to, but WIN the 1913 US Open against his hero and rival Harry Vardon.

#4. The Man with the Perfect Swing (1995) – Suzanne Savoy
This film may have been low budget, but my Rock Heads know that can be a good thing! This one’s a story of a man who stumbles upon the “perfect” golf swing and how he plans on capitalizing on the idea to revolutionize the game of golf. Back in ’95 you could probably hear the groans from every golfer who wished they’d written this one!

#3. Legend of Bagger Vance (2000) – Will Smith, Matt Damon, Charlize Theron
A bit more of a drama than this Caveman usually cares for, but good nonetheless! The movie follows a down & out WWI vet as he attempts to pick up the game after 15 years. As if that weren’t enough of a challenge, his ex-lover’s involved with the tournament. Luckily he gains the help of a mysterious man offering to be his caddy and guide him to find his “authentic” swing.

#2. Happy Gilmore (1996) – Adam Sandler, Christopher McDonald
A great comedy that happens to be all about golf! Happy is a a short-tempered hockey player who picks up the sticks to raise enough money to save his grandmother’s house. His unorthodox driving methods and odd behavior draw crowds and the attention of long-time Tour champ Shooter McGavin.

#1. Caddyshack (1980) – Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Bill Murray
The grand-daddy of all golf movies! An instant classic that still gets quoted only a couple thousand times a day at golf courses around the world. From Murray’s gopher-huntin’ groundskeeper to Rodney Dangerfield’s crack-up Al Czervik, Caddyshack really does deliver about a laugh every minute.

Now, while Caddyshack might even be my favorite movie of all time, I must warn my Rock Heads to avoid the sequel, Caddyshack 2. The less said about that movie, the better.

-Scratch

PS: I know a few more golf movies that occasionally find their way into the Cave… everything from Tin Cup and The Caddy (starring Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis) to Bobby Jones – Stroke of Genius and even The Three Stooges and their short, “Three Little Beers.” Care to share YOUR favorite? Leave a comment below!

 
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16 thoughts on “Greatest Golf Movies Ever Made

  • October 23, 2009 at 9:15 am
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    Here’s a full list: (let me know if you can add any)

    Golf Videos

    Movies

    1. Babe (1975)… Susan Clark won an Emmy for her performance as legendary woman athlete Babe Didrickson (1916-1956). The film starts in Port Arthur, Texas, with teenaged Babe depriving herself of a social life in order to excel at track and field. Her well-honed skills and fierce competitive spirit win Babe a slot at the Los Angeles-based 1932 Olympics. Able to excel in practically any sport, Babe becomes a pro golfer, tennis player and billiard champ. In 1940, she meets and marries roughhewn ex-wrestler George Zaharias (played by Alex Karras, Clark’s real-life future husband), who becomes her mentor and manager. Despite the anticipated career and personal conflicts, George stays by Babe’s side for the next sixteen years, ultimately buoying her spirits during her three-year ordeal with terminal cancer. Babe was adapted by Emmy nominee Joanna Lee from Babe Didrickson Zaharias’ autobiography This Life I’ve Led.

    2. Banning (1967)… Robert Wagner, Anjanette Comer, Jill St. John, Guy Stockwell, James Farentino, Susan Clark, Gene Hackman. Wagner plays playboy golf pro down on his luck. Kicked off the circuit for alleged cheating he is forced to hustle for a living. Moving from one Country Club to another Wagner uses his talents to hustle golf and women while trying to stay one step ahead of an irate loan shark.

    3. Blades (1989) Welcome to the Tall Grass Country Club, where you’ll find scenic views, lush greens and a possessed power mower that’s making mincemeat out of unsuspecting golfers. It’s up to three unlikely heroes to battle this lethal loin-mauler.

    4. Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius (2004) For some athletes, the ultimate win comes through a stroke of luck, but for Robert Tyre Jones, Jr., “Bobby Jones,” it was truly a stroke of genius. His natural skill and uncanny passion for the game of golf earned him the title of “The Best Golfer in the World.” But it was his style that set him apart. A dashing smile. Impeccable integrity. Unrivaled intensity. Legendary wit and intelligence. An epic passion for life, born out of adversity. For a brief moment in time, this incredible man became an American hero. Bobby Jones – Stroke of Genius tells the story of that man.

    5. Caddy Shack (1980) This hysterical farce, set against the backdrop of the typically hoity-toity Bushwood Country club, pits the caddies vs. the establishment with riotous results. Danny, a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks, is struggling to make it as a caddy at Bushwood. Terrified of being a caddy for life, he is dying to win the Bushwood annual caddy scholarship and is willing to do whomever and whatever it takes. The caddies carouse, smoke, and curse their way around Bushwood, wrecking havoc on the uptight rules and regulations strictly adhered to by most of the members of the club. Chevy Chase stars as Ty Webb, a wealthy antiestablishment member of Bushwood who tries to convince Danny that there is more to life than playing by the rules. This wacky comedy also features an insanely delightful performance by Bill Murray, as the local groundskeeper who becomes obsessed with killing off the gophers who have infested the golf course, with bang-up results. When Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield) comes to town he sets the country club–and Judge Smails, played by the fabulous Ted Knight–on end with his poor taste, bad humor, and big money. The final showdown between the snobs and the slobs is not to be missed. CADDYSHACK is one of the most-quoted comedies of all time, and with good reason.

    6. Caddy Shack II (1988)… Jackie Mason, Dyan Cannon, Robert Stack, Dina Merrill, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Randy Quaid. Average sequel but story and cast is totally different from original. Mason spends most of the movie trying to get his daughter accepted at the local country club.

    7. Dead Solid Perfect (1988)… Randy Quaid, Kathryn Harrold, Jack Warden. Made for cable comedy-drama about life on the professional tour. Taken from Dan Jenkins book of the same name.

    8. Follow the Sun (1951)…Glenn Ford, Anne Baxter, Dennis O’Keefe, June Havoc. Biography of Ben Hogan is more fiction than fact but heart warming and entertaining. The film shows how Hogan survived a near fatal car crash while struggling to regain his championship form. HOF golfers Sam Snead, Jimmy Demaret and Carey Middlecoff and legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice have cameos. Great story and good clean golf movie!

    9. A Gentlemans Game (2001) A golfing phenom, Timmy Price (Mason Gamble from RUSHMORE and DENNIS THE MENACE), has all the tools to become a professional. Realizing this, his father (Dylan Baker) gets Timmy a job as a caddy at the local country club. Timmy’s game continues to improve, and his knowledge of the world becomes broader as well through his understanding of the social and economic class system that is well out of balance on this golf course. This moving coming-of-age story returns one CADDYSHACK alumnus to the links with Brian Doyle-Murray starring as the groundskeeper Tomato Face.

    10. Golf Balls (1999)… Greg Logenhagen, Todd Allen Durkin, Christy Tummond, Dan Barkley, Naia Kelly, Amy Lynn Baxter. Silly comedy about two rival golf courses ending in a winner-take-all match. The struggling Pennytree decides to recruit beautiful women (featuring Baxter as “Barbara the Bod”) to pick up business. A couple of good gags and a lot of nudity. Definitely not for the kids. Decent soundtrack though.

    11. Happy Gilmore (1996) … Adam Sandler, Christopher McDonald, Julie Bowen, Frances Bay, Carl Weathers, Joe Flaherty. Cameos by Bob Barker, Vern Lundquist, Kevin Nealon and Lee Trevino. Sandler is Happy Gilmour, a frustrated hockey player who discovers he can hit a golf ball 400 yards with his slap shot swing. He wreaks havoc on the pro tour for the rest of the movie. Great comedy with or without the golf.

    12. Jack The Complete Story (2006)… “This six part series is dedicated to one of history’s greatest athletes and a true golf legend, Jack Nicklaus. Co Hosted by his long-term coach, Jim Flick, the series provides the definitive insight into Jack Nicklaus as he shares his memories and reveals his insights into the game. Each episode provides rich imagery and comment from Jack’s illustrious career, including exclusive interviews with his family, friends and golfing adversaries.”

    13. The Man with the Perfect Swing (1995)… James Black, Suzanne Savoy, Marco Perella, James Belcher. Down-on-his-luck Anthony “Babe” Lombardo stumbles onto the perfect golf swing and sets out to sell and market it. Unpretentious little film captures the feel of real life struggles and is loosely based on a true story. Shot on location in and around Houston, Texas accompanied by an excellent Paul English soundtrack.

    14. Miracle on the 17th Green (1999)..Based on a Novel by James Patterson. It’s Christmas and Travis McKinley is playing a round of golf, when he sees something that has always eluded him–the “putting line”, a Zen-like vision of how to get the ball to the cup. Suddenly, he’s playing like a pro and his new skills catapult him into the PGA Senior Open. Then, on the 17th green, something occurs that will change Travis forever.

    15. National Lampoon’s Golf Punks (1998)… Down-and-out golf pro Tom Arnold is forced to teach the sport to a group of misfits at a public course. With the group set to play a team from an elite country club headed by his rival, Arnold tries to turn his losing crew into winners. James Kirk and Maureen Webb also star in this laugh ride.

    16. Pat and Mike (1952)… Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Aldo Ray, William Ching, Jim Backus, Carl Switzer, Chuck Connors. Comedy about a sensational female athlete is managed by a hard-nosed sports promoter. Based on the Ruth Gordon–Garson Kanin Oscar-nominated screenplay. Babe Didrikson and Betty Hicks among others have cameos.

    17. The Caddy (1953)… Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Donna Reed. Not one of their better efforts but M&L fans will still like it. Martin was a very good golfer in real life and also sings his hit song That’s Amore.

    18. The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000) Based on the Steven Pressfield novel. A disillusioned war veteran, Capt. Rannulph Junah (Matt Damon), reluctantly agrees to play a game of golf. He finds the game futile until his caddy, Bagger Vance (Will Smith), teaches him the secret of the authentic golf stroke which turns out also to be the secret to mastering any challenge and finding meaning in life.

    19. The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005) You wouldn’t think a movie that uses the game of golf as a metaphor for class struggle could be so entertaining. The Greatest Game Ever Played stars the charming Shia LaBeouf (Holes) as Francis Ouimet, a golfer who, in 1913, rose from caddy to U.S. Open champion at the age of 20–despite the resistance of the powers that be, who thought it unseemly for a lower-class plebian to play the sport of gentlemen. Ouimet’s main competitor is Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane, The Hours), a British professional, still considered one of the greatest players of all time, who fought his own class battles. The two go head to head in a genuinely gripping match, deftly balanced against the juxtapositions of their personal struggles. Is it sentimental and formulaic? Is the outcome a foregone conclusion? Yes, but it doesn’t matter–formulas exist because, when executed with verve and dexterity, they work. Bill Paxton, best known as an actor (One False Move, Apollo 13), steps into the director’s chair and hits all the right notes, aided by an excellent cast playing colorful characters, a vivid recreation of the time period, glowing cinematography, and an expert pace.

    20. The Story of Golf (1998) THE STORY OF GOLF chronicles the evolution of the game of golf — from its rudimentary origins in Europe and China many centuries ago, to the worldwide popularity it enjoys today. Narrated by Jim McKay, this two-hour film includes archival and contemporary interviews with the game’s most knowledgeable experts, and archival footage from libraries, home-movie collections, television and newsreels. Within the evolution of the game lie the clubs, the balls, the rules, the course architecture, the fashions, the litany of legendary players and ultimately, the huge modern business of golf — all of which are documented in this entertaining and informative program.

    21. The Tiger Woods Story (1998)…Based on the book Tiger by John Strege, starring Keith David, Khalil Kain and Freda Foh Shen, directed by Levar Burton.The true story of a young hero who broke records and barriers. By the end of april 1997, when he won the Masters golf tournament, 21-year-old tiger woods was world-famous for his accomplishments. He had broken two records: an unprecedented 12-stroke margin of victory and the youngest player ever to win. Equally important was the barrier he broke by becoming the first african-american Masters champion. from the time he was three months old, Tiger Woods displayed a natural gift for the game. by the age of three, he had already earned a reputation and appeared on tv to show off his skill. with his father coaching him and his mother providing a strong spiritual influence, Tiger rose to fame and fortune. but his success came at a price, as he endured personal struggles with racism, self-doubt, cultural identity and the frustration of living in the media spotlight. This compelling film tells the story of how tiger woods overcame these afversities to become the world’s best golfer. Okay flick for Tiger Fans, but be warned the acting is very bad. Perhaps someone will make a real movie about Tiger.

    22. Tin Cup (1996)… Kevin Costner, Rene Russo, Don Johnson, Cheech Marin. Costner plays Roy McEvoy, a down-on-his-luck pro that makes it to the U.S. Open with the help of Russo and Marin. Costner’s charm and Ron Shelton’s (Bull Durham, White Men Can’t Jump) script and direction make this film a winner. Several cameos throughout including golfers Peter Jacobsen, Gary McCord, Johnny Miller, Craig Stadler and CBS announcer and former pro Ken Venturi. Listen for Mickey Jones singing Double Bogey Blues.

    23. Who’s Your Caddy? (2007)… Antwan Andre “Big Boi” Patton of OutKast proves himself an ingratiating leading man in the rambunctious rap comedy Who’s Your Caddy. High-powered rap mogul C-Note wants to get a membership at an exclusive country club run by a racist snob named Cummings. When he’s rebuffed, C-Note and his pugnacious entourage stir up trouble until Cummings’ sleek lawyer Shannon (Tamala Jones, Daddy Day Camp) advises Cummings to accept C-Note, so that if he breaks the rules, he can be legally ousted. But it turns out that C-Note has deeper issues on his mind and isn’t so easily gotten rid of–especially when he starts to woo Shannon. This slapdash hybrid of Caddyshack and The Brothers feels silly and features far too much flatulence, homophobia, blows to the testicles, and buxom flygirls shaking their booties–but that makes it no different from the output of the Farrelly Brothers (Kingpin, There’s Something About Mary) or the Wayans family (Scary Movie, Little Man). Cummings hams up his villainous role with professional vigor, Sherri Shepherd (The View) camps it up as C-Note’s assistant, while cameos and brief bits by Garrett Morris (Saturday Night Live) and Tony Cox (Bad Santa) give the movie some added energy.

    Shorts

    1. Dorf on Golf (1987) Tim Conway stars as Derk Dorf, the short Scandinavian sports expert who shows viewers some of the funnier techniques of golf and unveils his revolutionary inventions that keep heads down, elbows in and drives straight. Derk is assisted by his caddy, Leonard, and the ever popular Boom Boom La Rue.

    2. Golf The Ridiculous Obsession (2002) Golf. For many people it’s a way of life. It affects their thoughts, their words, and even their clothes. This program is a must for those of you already bitten by the golf bug, and probably for those who haven’t gone full throttle but are leaning toward those golfist tendencies.

    3. Leslie Nelson’s Stupid Little Golf Video (1997) Notoriously maladroit golf enthusiast Nielsen returns to the green, dispensing more how-to tips for the beginning bad golfer. Includes advice on how to reduce your score by skipping the last hole and how to improve your cart-driving skills.

    4. The Golf Specialist (1930)– WC Fields Short This is an amusing short feature, and it holds up well for its time. You can tell at times that it is from the very early sound era, when they still did not quite have the pacing down, but W.C. Fields makes up for it with his usual skill at both sight gags and dialogue jokes. There have been few comedians as good as Fields was at getting good mileage out of a recurring line of dialogue (“keep your eye on the ball … “), and here as “The Golf Specialist” he also gets quite a bit out of his peculiar caddie. The result is an entertaining trifle that is light on plot but that has some good laughs.
    5. The Lucy Show (Lucy in Palm Springs) Join Lucy and her new friend Carol Burnett as they go husband hunting at a Palm Springs golf tournament.
    6. I Love Lucy – The Golf Game What could be funnier than Ricky and Fred making up their own rules to golf to discourage Lucy and Ethel. From I Love Lucy’s third season comes episode 96 which aired on May 17th 1954. Starring: Lucille Ball – Desi Arnaz – Vivian Vance – William Frawley
    Cartoons

    1. Tom and Jerry’s Greatest Chases (“Tee for Two”) Tom & Jerry take a trip to the golf course. From Tom and Jerry’s Greatest Chases by Theodorus Kerk

    2. Donald’s Golf Game (1938) Donald is trying to enjoy a leisurely game of gold but his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie decide to play tricks on their uncle. From Walt Disney’s Funny Factory With Donald

    3. “The Loose Nut” (1945) provides Woody Woodpecker with a novel storyline, in which the bird is practicing his golf stroke. Only thing is, he’s not out at the countryside links, he’s utilizing a freshly poured and smoothed concrete walkway for his fairway. A rather loutish thug of a work man is understandably upset when the bird makes a mess of his freshly finished masterpiece. He emphatically points out the ruined walkway to the bird and gives him and a finishing trowel a toss, so that the bird can fix up the mess. Woody straps two trowels to his feet and promptly skates about on the fresh concrete as if it were ice, smoothing out all the bumps. Then he screeches to a halt, braking in such a way that concrete is splattered all over the worker and the real fight begins. Eventually things escalate to the point that Woody is chasing the hardhat with a steam roller, amid some other ongoing gags, until the point is reached that neither personage prevails, they simply continue chasing each other off into the sunset. From Woody Woodpecker and Friends – Volume Six

    4. “Charlie’s Golf Classic”

    ***Reply From Scratch***

    That was much more extensive than my list. Thank you!!! a few more of interest that can be added would be Leslie Neilson’s golf movies, and “Once You Kiss a Stranger”, which was released in 1969, sort of a remake of Hitchcock’s “Strangers On a Train.” Its the story of a pro-golfer who falls in love with a psychopath who tries to get him to swap murders, She is going to kill his rival if he kills her psychiatrist who wants her committed.

    Reply
  • October 23, 2009 at 10:41 am
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    I flinch every time someone mentions “Happy Gilmore” as a golfing movie. It’s not about golf – that’s just a device to produce contrast. Hockey and golf are about as far apart as two games can get – that’s why they chose golf as the sport that this dopey hockey player (who can’t even make his local team) takes up in order to save his poor grandma’s house – when she’s in danger of losing it because she “forgot” to pay her taxes for several years.

    We all know (or should… ) that golf is about a lot more than whacking it long off the tee – and that’s the only skill that the Happy Gilmore character demonstrates. How does this get him into a PGA event? I will admit that Adam Sandler’s name in the credits is a turn-off for me – if his humor were any more low-brow, it’s be downright Neanderthal – but in this case, he lives up to (down to?) his reputation.

    “Tin Cup” deserves to be in this list – much more so than “Happy Gilmore” – because it’s about golf, and real golfers. No one can be called a golf snob for liking “Tin Cup”, either – Roy McAvoy is a beer drinking regular guy who runs a down and out driving range on the outskirts of the fictitious West Texas town of Salome – and he owes $10k to his stripper ex-girlfriend. Hardly country club stuff…

    The there’s “Dead Solid Perfect”, the HBO movie based on Dan Jenkins’ classic golf novel of the same name, starring Randy Quaid as Billy Clyde Puckett – a Fort Worth, Texas-born pro golfer who is not exactly up there in the Nicklaus/Palmer end of the spectrum, but is still out there rolling his rock and making his living playing golf (what all Rockheads dream about… ). Hard to find these days – it has never come out on DVD – and even though they played fast and loose with the storyline for the transition to the screen, it’s still classic Jenkins, with all of his West Texas sensibilities. It’s a shame that more of his books haven’t been made into movies…

    ***Reply From Scratch***
    I completely agree with you that Tin Cup is a fantastic movie, and not just for “golf snobs”. Dead Solid Perfect, also great. Had I made a more extensive list, both of those would have been included. Happy Gilmore is just an incredibly fun movie for me. I am able to laugh every time I watch it. While it may not be a serious golf movie, it is a golf movie. He was able to get into the PGA tour for his drive, and attitude which brought in crowds and revenue. Spectators and money is a big driver in every sport. And not to defend Adam Sandler, but once he was able to get past his reputation for his moronic comedy that he built during SNL, he has turned into a fairly decent actor, taking on more serious roles. Thanks for the comment though:) I look forward to hearing more from you!

    Reply
  • October 23, 2009 at 2:03 pm
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    Caddy Shack transends golf, it maybe one of the best movies ever made!

    Reply
  • October 23, 2009 at 2:33 pm
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    Dead Solid Perfect is without a doubt my favorite golf movie…. Tons of one-liners, the ice bucket scene may live forever in my memory

    Reply
  • October 24, 2009 at 11:19 am
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    I like to sit down to a dry documentary now and again. I’m surprised Ken Burns hasn’t made a documentary on GOLF (or has he?). Has there ever been a movie about Old Tom Morris or the Smith Brothers, Alex, Willie, George and MacDonald? Maybe those stories are best told, in the page turning format?

    Reply
  • October 25, 2009 at 3:08 pm
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    Dead Solid Perfect is my favorite golf flick. It is a shame that it is only available on VHS, and very hard to find. I watch it every so often, and always enjoy it. The ice bucket scene is indeed a classic…..WOW !!

    ***Reply From Scratch***
    You can find the dvd online, , but I think it may just be the vhs copy placed on a dvd.

    Reply
  • October 26, 2009 at 12:53 pm
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    I hated “Caddy Shack 2”, Loved “Tin Cup”.But i have never seen a golf flick as bad as “Whos Your Caddy”.

    Reply
  • November 20, 2009 at 10:50 am
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    Based on Scratch’s recommendation I tracked down a like-new VHS copy of “The Man With The Perfect Swing” – I haven’t watched it yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

    Note to Big Dog: Aah, yes – the ice bucket scene in “Dead Solid Perfect”… Corinne Bohrer, who plays Janie Ruth Rimmer, Billy Clyde’s “3rd ex-wife” really stepped out of the mold for that “buck-nekkid” walk down the hotel hallway – she is usually found playing nice suburban mommies… Also, did you know that the shocked older couple whom she encounters in the hallway were none other than author Dan Jenkins and his wife?

    ***response from Scratch***

    Definitely let me know what ya think!!!

    Reply
  • July 12, 2010 at 10:46 pm
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    Dan Aykroyd is a classical comedian, i love Coneheads movie;,~

    Reply
  • October 10, 2010 at 1:28 pm
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    Dan Aykroyd can have some bad and corny comedy movies too but he is a great comedian,,’

    Reply
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