During this past week, as the rain just kept coming down, I couldn’t get my mind off of golf. Shocking, but true.
So I did something drastic — I watched “Happy Gilmore” on Netflix.
If you’re unfamiliar with the flick, it’s an Adam Sandler movie from 1996 about a failed hockey player who becomes a golfer. Sandler movies are notoriously divisive, but I’ve always been a fan. That said, something like “Billy Madison” is actually a little hard to watch as an adult as Sandler does his one-note shtick of acting like a man-child. It’s still hilarious at times, don’t get me wrong, but how I ever thought it was great is beyond me.
That said, “Happy Gilmore” actually holds up pretty well. Christopher McDonald’s performance as Shooter McGavin is one for the ages. Actors Carl Weathers and Richard Kiel (Jaws from the James Bond franchise) also play extremely memorable characters.
But I’m not a film critic. I’m not here to dissect artistic direction or any kind of mumbo jumbo like that. I’m here to give you your weekly golf fix. You may have guessed by now that said golf fix is going to come in the way of movie recommendations. Thanks to reader Damian S. for the suggestion.
Weirdly, there aren’t a ton of notable golf movies out there, but here is what you can watch until you’re able to get out on the course again:
CADDYSHACK (1980) — Where to start with this gem? It’s hard to ignore the stellar cast led by Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield. You’d be hard-pressed to find three funnier guys from the 80s. Murray steals the show as the dim-witted greenskeeper. His improvised monologue while hitting flowers with a golf club is the stuff of legend. If you’ve ever seen this movie and NOT made the Chevy Chase “Na-na-na-na” noise while putting, you’re doing something wrong with your life. Now that I’m a golfer, the thing that stands out to me is the surface on which they’re actually playing golf. The greens look like my front yard. This is supposed to be a ritzy country club? Obviously that doesn’t take away from the movie, but it’s definitely a theme in golf movies. Apparently wherever these films are shot don’t want camera crews, etc. tearing up their greens so they just putt on the fairway or something. Still, this nearly 40-year-old classic receives my highest recommendation among golf movies. Whatever you do, don’t watch the sequel. Yikes!
HAPPY GILMORE (1996) — As mentioned above, Adam Sandler didn’t exactly flex his acting chops during the peak of his popularity. With films such as “Waterboy”, ‘Little Nicky’, and “Billy Madison”, Sandler basically rinsed and repeated. “Happy Gilmore” was always different for me. By no means are we talking about a Marlon Brando performance here, but Sandler’s character actually has some depth. Like “Caddyshack”, this is a movie full of quotable lines. We all have that friend who says, “You will not make that putt, you (donkey)” when we’re lining up a putt.
TIN CUP (1996) — I’ve referenced it in the past, but 1996 was apparently a popular time for golf. It’s probably just a coincidence that the most marketable star that golf has ever seen (one Eldrick “Tiger” Woods) was just beginning his run of unparalleled excellence. Anyway, this flick starring Kevin Costner is widely regarded as one of the better golf movies ever made. Costner plays a fallen golf star who is trying to reclaim glory (as well as the heart of a woman, of course). I haven’t seen this one is many years so I’ll have to remedy that soon.
THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE (2000) — This is another one I watched long before I ever picked up a golf club, but I remember thoroughly enjoying it regardless. My wife’s celebrity crush is Will Smith, so we watched it while we were still dating. Who knows, this flick may have been a reason I started golfing to begin with. Smith coaches Matt Damon’s character in a post-World War I setting. Period piece + golf + great cast = great sports movie.
A quick Google search reveals several other recommendations, but the above films are the only ones I’ve actually seen, so I can’t speak on the others. “The Greatest Game Ever Played” is extremely highly regarded (and the book is sitting on my nightstand right now). Others include “A Gentleman’s Game”, “Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius” and “Tommy’s Honour”.
The thing that stands out about golf films is the lack of children’s movies in the genre. Baseball, soccer and football have things like “The Sandlot”, “The Big Green” and “Little Giants”, respectively. Golf doesn’t have that. Perhaps more kids would get into the sport if it had a popular movie. Get on that, film makers.
Do you have any more recommendations? Have you seen any of the ones I listed that I haven’t seen myself? I’d love to hear your thoughts on them. Please send me an email.
Until next time, golf is great. Go get some.
Stefan Gestwicki is an OBSERVER contributing writer. Comments on this article can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.