Category Archives: Hitting the Links

Golfers are intimate with a special sub-subgenre of movie—the golf movie, which, in essence, includes virtually any film with a single use of a club or a single shot of a green. (Bringing Up Baby is a classic example, as is The Aviator.) But we’re including in this category only all-out chip-and-putt movies, which are all comedies (naturally, given the lightness of the game), except for the last, endearing but typically self-serious recent entry. So much that was once deemed fit only for lowdown yucks seems now, in the new millennium, appropriate for sniffly melodrama.

Tin Cup (1996)

Ron Shelton’s making his incisive way through the major sports (let’s hope he hasn’t given up before getting to boccie), and here he rampages across the green with Kevin Costner’s gone-to-seed golf rogue, who’s trying to qualify for the U.S. Open in order to impress Rene Russo. Because it’s Shelton, Tin Cup is probably the most faithful movie ever made about the game, even if it’s too long and Costner’s aging rapscallion pales after a while.

Cover of "Tin Cup"
Cover of Tin Cup

Caddyshack (1980)

Caddyshack (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The pivotal National Lampoon/Saturday Night Live–era comedy, co-written and directed by Harold Ramis, in which gophers run amok, Chevy Chase hits droll notes (this was back when he was funny), Bill Murray invents Carl the groundskeeper, Ted Knight bursts a blood vessel, and Rodney Dangerfield asks who, in fact, stepped on a duck. There’s more. Caddyshack is a bit of a mess, but golfers can’t go wrong with this film, especially if they’re loaded.

Pat and Mike (1952)

Cover of "The Hepburn & Tracy Signature C...
Cover via Amazon

Katharine Hepburn is a pro golfer, Spencer Tracy is her promoter, and Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon’s screenplay gives them helping after helping of gender-combat banter, on and off the course (we’re treated to the sight of Hepburn herself, in a championship game, hitting against legendary real-life pro Babe Didrikson Zaharias, who was the subject of the 1975 TV movie Babe). Pat and Mike is perhaps the best of the Hepburn-Tracy comedies—because here, Tracy doesn’t always get the upper hand.

The Idle Class (1921)

This vintage Charlie Chaplin two-reeler (amounting to about thirty minutes) is the first notable golf comedy: Chaplin’s Tramp infiltrates an aristocratic golf club and shows up the snobs. The brilliant pratfall gags in The Idle Class are so concise you’d think they were digitally timed.