We all have favorite movies. Mine include “Planes Trains and Automobiles” “The Pink Panther” “The Shawshank Redemption” “Airplane” “Young Frankenstein” any Steve Martin, Laurel and Hardy or Three Stooges offering (yes – I know). Those – and a few others – are movies I can watch again and again – for escape (see post of January 6, 2013). But there are also a few that I enjoy for inspiration. “Breaking Away” “Remember the Titans” “Rudy.” These movies never get old.
I like golf. And the best golf movie I’ve seen – which always has my eyes misty at its close – is “The Greatest Game Ever Played” (2005; directed by Bill Paxton). At the age of 7, young Francis Ouimet (1893-1967) gets a job as a caddy at a posh country club in Brookline, Massachusetts. The young man learns to play golf – practicing at every opportunity. One day a club member – Mr. Hastings – invites Francis to play a round despite member objection. Francis shoots an 81. With a 9 on one hole. Francis enters a qualifying round for the U.S. Amateur Championship – borrowing $50 from his father. He misses the cut by one stroke. His father insists he get a “real” job. And that’s that. For nearly a year.
Francis works in a sporting goods store in Brookline. One day, the President of the U.S. Golf Association enters the store and invites Francis to play in the U.S. Open. And in 1913, Francis – age 20 – competes in the U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline. His caddy (despite objection and “tsk tsking” from the elites) is a 10 year old boy – Eddie Lowry – who plays hookey from school to caddy for Francis. The result? Francis defeats the world’s greatest golfers – Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. And wins the tournament. Wow!
The movie is true and historically accurate except that in the movie Francis wins the playoff on the last hole by one stroke. Truth be told – he dusted Messrs. Vardon by 5 strokes and Ray by 6.