Premiering Monday, Sept. 24 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel, Film Details How Ballesteros, Faldo, Langer, Lyle & Woosnam Helped Establish Competitive Spirit Synonymous with Modern-Day Ryder Cup
“Seve came in [the team room] and said ‘We must celebrate, we must celebrate! This is a victory for us, we can do this!’” – Nick Faldo on the ‘83 loss (14½-13½)
VIDEO: Famous 5 Trailer
In anticipation of the biennial Ryder Cup next week outside of Paris, Golf Channel will showcase its latest Golf Films project, Famous 5, outlining how five European golfers – born within 11 months of one another – collectively helped revitalize the international competition and redefine the professional golf landscape. The film will premiere on Monday, Sept. 24 at 9 p.m. ET to kick off NBC Sports Group’s Ryder Cup week programming.
The five(Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam) each were adorned with their own unique personality and style of play, but together, in many ways were responsible for injecting much-needed relevance into the (at the time) overwhelmingly one-sided Ryder Cup. The film will examine how – after a 1977 rule began allowing players from throughout continental Europe – they would go on to collectively help erase a more than 50-year drought of losing to the United States.
“Famous 5 provides a unique look at Ryder Cup history from a European perspective,” said Molly Solomon, Golf Channel executive producer. “The film highlights how these influential stars helped elevate the Ryder Cup to become one of sports’ preeminent spectacles.”
Famous 5 will detail how each found the game of golf, with footage of their childhood surroundings and insight from those whom experienced first-hand the beginning stages of what would amount to World Golf Hall of Fame careers, led by 16 major championships and a No. 1 ranking in the world (for all but Lyle). Included are a visit to Welwyn Garden City Golf Club in England where Faldo took up the game; a conversation with Ballesteros’ brother in Pedrena, Spain and with Langer’s brother in Anhauser, Germany; a trip to Lyle’s childhood bedroom in England overlooking the 18th green at Hawkstone Park golf course; and a journey to the cowshed in Wales where Woosnam honed his game.
Despite a common pride for their modest, yet unique origins in both life and golf, in many ways the fact that they weren’t all from the same place was overshadowed by their stature as the nucleus of a European professional golf insurgence indelibly bound together to reverse the Ryder Cup narrative. Ballesteros breaking through to win The Open in 1979 and the Masters in 1980 was a monumental step in the right direction. It also signaled to Faldo and Langer – both of whom were keeping pace with and at times beating Ballesteros on the European Tour – that they too could compete with the world’s best players.
In addition to the five, Tony Jacklin is remembered as another principal figure in both the film and in rectifying the European’s fate. After suffering yet another lopsided defeat in the 1981 Ryder Cup (despite Faldo, Langer and Lyle’s presence) when Jacklin and Ballesteros were unceremoniously left off the roster, former European Tour executive director Ken Schofield turned to Jacklin (just six months prior to the 1983 competition) to serve as captain. Jacklin only agreed after earning assurances from Schofield of first-class support, and in the process also convinced Ballesteros to re-join the team.
“Americans were flying on Concorde (airplane). We’re flying in the back of the bus on British Airways not knowing who is buying the drinks. We couldn’t take our caddies with us. We didn’t have a team room. We were wearing anything anybody would give us. There was no structure.” – Tony Jacklin on the European Ryder Cup experience prior to 1983
The result was a one-point loss to the United States – one that Ballesteros implored should be celebrated – and it offered the confidence that propelled Europe’s success in the coming years. When they won the 1985 Ryder Cup at The Belfry with (for the first time) each of the Famous 5 on the team, it was Europe’s first victory in the competition since 1957, the year that commenced the 11-month span in which all five were born. From 1977-2008 (with 1999 the lone exception), at least one member of the Famous 5 contributed to the European Ryder Cup team, either as a player, captain, or vice captain. Their influence led to the Europeans capturing three straight Ryder Cups in the 1980s, and inspired the subsequent European teams to win eight of the next 13 meetings to-date.
Famous 5 is being produced by Golf Films, led by 13-time Emmy Award-winning coordinating producer Israel DeHerrera, who has served as the lead producer for several award-winning projects, including the three-part Arnie (2014) and Jack (2017) films on Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Other critically acclaimed Golf Films productions include Driven: Oklahoma State Cowboys (2018), executive produced by Rickie Fowler; the Emmy-nominated Payne (2014), on the late Payne Stewart; Go Down Swinging (2018), reliving the unforgettable conclusion to the 1999 Open; Summer of ’76 (2017), recounting the 1976 Open at Royal Birkdale; Arnie & Me (2015), a follow-up, fourth installment of Arnie; ’86 (2016), a chronicle of Nicklaus’ final major championship win at the 1986 Masters that aired to coincide with the 30th anniversary of his iconic win; and Ben Crenshaw: A Walk Through Augusta (2015), on the two-time Masters champion’s special relationship with the tournament.