Talk about golf movie madness

March, 9, 2010

Thirty years ago, the future of golf films was changed forever.

When a meddlesome gopher won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the classic "Caddyshack," it set a precedent that this genre should be taken seriously by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Since then, "Tin Cup," "Happy Gilmore" and even somewhat inexplicably "The Legend of Bagger Vance" have all earned Best Picture accolades, but never before has a group of golf movies dominated the overall landscape like they did this year.

Believe it or not, for the first time ever, all 10 nominees for Best Picture were part of the genre. The following is a brief breakdown of each film.

Note: Synopses of "real" movies were used in the making of this piece.

Avatar: Set in the distant future, James Cameron's epic is a tale of modern capitalist society meeting an indigenous people in an attempt to take over their land and mine for the rich raw materials held there. However, European Ryder Cup fans -- clad head-to-toe in their traditional blue -- are reluctant to cede Rory McIlroy to the United States, which hasn't won the biennial event since way back in 2008.

The Blind Side: The lives of a wealthy professional golfer's family are intersected with that of a down-and-out caddie living in poverty. When the family -- which includes the tour pro, his trophy wife, 2.2 kids, a dog, four nannies, a dozen gardeners and an agent -- asks the looper to stay in their mansion, they learn a valuable lesson about the game's dark underbelly: Caddies are people, too.

District 9: Set on an alien refugee golf course in South Africa, this film tells a science fiction tale of one race's treatment of another. Main character Ernie Els owns the world's prettiest golf swing, but exposure to an alien chemical ruins his putting stroke. Enter the Prawns and their leader, Retief Goosen, whose unemotional, robotic machinations on the course are anything but human.

An Education: This coming-of-age journey involves main character Michelle Wie as she attempts to choose between a life on the links and one of prestigious academics at one of the best universities in the world. While she receives a fulfilling education at Stanford University, Wie learns more off campus, needing to tee it up in order to claim the fortune procured for her by various sponsors.

The Hurt Locker: The story of one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, this film follows a team of elite clubhouse attendants as they maintain damage control behind the scenes at a tournament. Watch as some of the world's best golfers finish rounds with a triple-bogey on the final hole, then attempt to take out their frustrations on unassuming storage facilities, often opting for a 3-iron.

Inglourious Basterds: Brad Pitt leads a ragtag group of PGA Tour veterans -- known as the Player Advisory Committee -- into enemy territory. Set in war-torn Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., the golfers attempt to gain control over Tim Finchem's army in various long-winded, harrowing meetings that only break for meals once every two hours.

Precious: A heart-wrenching story of physical, mental and emotional abuse, "Precious" follows the life of main character John Daly on his journey of self-discovery and acceptance. The story unfolds as he attempts to survive the vicious abuses he unleashes with help from a special teacher, Mr. Harmon -- until the instructor decides to part ways with the pupil.

A Serious Man: This movie explores the life of an ordinary man, Vijay Singh, as he searches for answers to life's most unanswerable questions. Which is the one true swing plane? How much wrist supination is too much? If a ball is struck at 10 p.m. on the driving range and no one else is there to hear it, did it really happen?

Up: This enchanting animated film features an elderly club pro trying to fulfill a lifelong dream of playing Augusta National. Unable to procure an invitation, he attaches helium balloons to the roof of his pro shop and sets out for the round of his life, unwittingly joined by a First Tee junior player who had been checking out new drivers near the back of the store.

Up in the Air: George Clooney portrays a golf writer traveling from city to city in hopes of covering the tournament at which Tiger Woods makes his long-awaited return to competition. The main character accumulates plenty of frequent-flier miles along the way, but never reaches his ultimate goal, hence the film's title and its impending sequel.

Jason Sobel is a golf writer for He can be reached at

Jason Sobel | email

ESPN Senior Writer




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