Just Relax and Pass the Popcorn

By Adam BarrMay 28, 2004, 4:00 pm
How did golf get to be the John Goodman of movie topics? Sure, its OK to have golf scenes in a movie, but make the game central to the plot and its box-office pneumonia.
Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius has been Troyed and Shreked out of first-run theaters. (It opened on more than 1,300 screens; now its down to less than 50.) This might be a good time to scope out the problem with golf cinema ' and quit worrying about it.
The Jones picture got panned within the golf press for being tinny, lacking depth, and essentially falling way short of the bar set by Citizen Kane and the rest of the American Film Institutes 100 Best list. Golf World couldnt find anything good to say about it, which seemed strange in light of the fact that sister magazine Golf Digest threw a big pre-premiere party for the film in Augusta during Masters week. Golfweeks smug reviewer complained about the films depiction of Jones, specifically the casting of anyone who isnt a Jones clone (as if there is such a thing). The writer moaned like a self-appointed Jones protector, implying that Jones had been wounded by some gross misrepresentation.
Stroke of Genius: Behind the ScenesThats the danger with a figure like Jones, or Babe Ruth, the only man who could have kept Jones from being the most prominent athlete of the 1920s (and who was played, in a truly bad picture, by John Goodman). So many people in golf feel as if they own Jones and his legend. So we hold books or movies about him to a nearly impossible standard. And while its true that the recent Jones movie wasnt masterpiece quality, it wasnt half as bad as its detractors made out.
No golf movie is. Tin Cup, a light entertainment, made for a Friday-night rental with pizza delivery, never pretended to encourage mantel-space rearrangement to accommodate Academy Awards for its cast or crew. Follow The Sun, the Glenn Ford melodrama of Ben Hogans life released in 1951, was in the same vein. Ditto Caddyshack (1988), Dead Solid Perfect (1988), Happy Gilmore (1996), The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000), Pat and Mike (1952) and Golfballs! (1999).
And thats not entirely a bad thing. With occasional exceptions that amount to truly compelling movies, Hollywood is in the least-common-denominator business. Thats because least common denominator often equals greatest common numerator: Big dollars, production budget recouped in the first weekend, profit, hot tubs, new ranches in Montana, another Lexus, the twelfth Rolex. Why else would Mike Myers as a monster with an inexplicable Scotch burr battle for No. 1 with Brad Pitt, who obviously cant act his way out of a suit of armor?
Niche moviemaking, the kind that spawned the Jones movie, is more a product of passion than profit motive. It necessarily appeals to a narrow audience. If nothing else, it draws history out of the realm of the minds eye. Golfers who want to look at a richly imagined past, to adorn with flesh, blood and emotion a man who played the game and died before they were born, will enjoy Stroke of Genius. Golfers who want to fantasize what it would be like for a sun-baked range pro to climb an improbable ladder to U.S. Open glory will like Tin Cup. But dont look for blockbusters on this shelf at Blockbuster.
The other good thing about it: When Hollywood gets around to The Tiger Woods Story (never doubt it), perhaps it wont feel so compelled to have a team of blockbuster-savvy writers punch up the story with a bunch of stuff that never happened.
After all, when your subject matter is too good for the lowest common denominator, you deserve better.
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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.